Don't cover up sexual assault against students: Stalin

Schools should not cover up cases of sexual assault against students: Tamil Nadu CM M K Stalin

Stalin also asked parents to stop thinking about 'what society will think if we report incidents of sexual assault' and stand behind their children

M K Stalin. Credit: PTI file photo

With incidents of minor girls ending their lives due to sexual assault by teachers and others on the rise in Tamil Nadu, Chief Minister M K Stalin on Friday made a fervent plea to girl children not to end their lives and asked them to come out boldly and complain against the perpetrators.

In a eight-minute long video message posted on his verified social media handles and disseminated through the government’s PR arm, Stalin told schools and colleges not to “cover up” incidents of sexual assault against students in their campuses for the fear of reputation of the institutions.

At the same breath, the Chief Minister also had a word of advice to the parents. He asked them to stop thinking about “what society will think if we report incidents of sexual assault” and stand behind their children. Not supporting the children who undergo such trauma would amount to betraying them, Stalin added.

“I will protect you not just as a Chief Minister, but as a father myself,” Stalin said in the video, released on the occasion of the International Day for Elimination of Violence against Women. Stalin’s message assumes significance in the wake of at least two minor students dying by suicide due to alleged sexual harassment or assault by their school teachers.

“We cannot remain silent by not talking about these issues. We should never remain silent…Children and women are subjected to sexual harassment in schools, colleges, and workplaces. Only a few come to the light. Others are brushed under the carpet,” Stalin said.

Listing the steps being taken by his government to ensure the safety of students and women in educational institutions and workplaces, Stalin said Tamil Nadu will establish four additional courts to exclusively hear cases registered under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act (POCSO).

Speaking about the recent incidents of sexual violence against girl children, the Chief Minister said he was disturbed on hearing the incidents and said they make “everyone feel ashamed” that such incidents do happen in a country that takes pride in being “developed and scientifically advanced.”

While asking survivors of sexual assault to dial 1098 for help, Stalin also said the helpline number will be prominently displayed in all textbooks printed by the Tamil Nadu government to be distributed among schoolchildren.

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