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Provide helpline to report sexual harassment in schools: HC to Tamil Nadu government

The Madras High Court has directed the Tamil Nadu government to provide helpline numbers to enable students and parents register complaints regarding irregularities and sexual harassment in schools besides conduct of tutorial classes by teachers after school hours.

Justice SM Subramaniam gave the direction recently on a petition by R Renganathan, a government school head master, seeking to quash the order passed by the Commissioner of Coimbatore Municipal Corporation, transferring him to another school.

Dismissing the petition, the judge said, “… this Court is of the considered opinion that no interference is required as such a transfer would not affect the service conditions of the writ petitioner nor the transfer affect normal life… Thus, the writ petition is liable to be rejected.”

Referring to growing indiscipline in educational institutions which ‘affects’ the nation’s development, the judge said, “This Court, with great pain, records that growing instances of sexual harassment in schools, colleges and Universities are causing greatest concern both to parents as well as to society at large.”

“Even young school children are not spared. However, authorities are not showing any sensitiveness towards these issues. They are pretending to be sensitive, but actually not,” he observed.

The court also expressed concern over failure to improve the system in order to avoid growing offences of sexual harassment in schools, colleges and universities.

Noting that only very few cases of sexual harassment were reported in the public domain, he said, activities in schools are not only to be monitored by authorities, but also by parents and other interested persons.

If any such incidents are noticed, then parents and students must be in a position to immediately register a complaint using a toll free telephone number, which is to be provided by the Education department of the state, the judge said.

He further said, in the event of receiving any complaint from any person, authorities must immediately conduct an enquiry and ascertain the truth.

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