A large section of our society still considers discussing sex as a taboo topic in every context. Which is why even speaking up against abuse and molestation is seen as inappropriate behaviour in women. Being touched by a man, against your will, ought to bring shame on you, and that is what happened to a girl in Uttar Pradesh who dared to complain about being molested by a boy.

SOME TAKEAWAYS

  • A large section of our society still considers discussing sex as a taboo topic in every context.
  • Many people consider speaking up against abuse and molestation as inappropriate behaviour in women.
  • A principal expelled a girl from school for “tarnishing the reputation” of the school by speaking out against molestation. 
  • This incident yet again shows how the onus of sexual crimes still befalls girls in our country.

A principal allegedly expelled a girl from the school on grounds that she tarnished the reputation of the institute by complaining about being molested by another student. According to NDTV, the principal allegedly dismissed the girl’s complaint claiming that the “incident occurred outside the campus,” and went on to expel her instead. Speaking to ANI, CB Singh, principal of the school in Kushinagar where this incident happened said, “Such indisciplined girls need not study here and tarnish the image of the school.” The girl has alleged that he even announced in the prayer hall that “such girls” are not needed in the school.

This incident yet again shows how the onus of sexual crimes still befalls girls in our country. They cannot even complain about facing molestation without worrying about repercussions, let alone seek justice. The thread that binds women’s dignity to social honour is not just strong, it is tangled and twisted beyond comprehension. In what sane world can a girl end up facing disciplinary action for speaking up against sexual misconduct? Yet, as per this orthodox male school principal, speaking out against molestation is tarnishing the school’s image.

The thread that binds women’s dignity to social honour is not just strong, it is tangled and twisted beyond comprehension.

He would rather not question the behaviour of the accused male student, nor does he have any concerns about the safety of other female students at the educational institute he runs. All he cares about is the ‘reputation’ of his school, and instead of attaching it to proper behaviour, he has affixed it on his conservative beliefs. The man belongs to a wide part of our society, which still feels that girls who speak about sex in any context are characterless and a bad influence on other girls. So when women speak out against marital rape, molestation or sexual abuse, they face shaming and isolation. Their abusers, on the other hand, enjoy protection due to their gender and the immeasurable privilege which it bestows on them.

Unless people stop seeing women’s courage and fight for safety as a threat to society’s moral fabric, women will never be safe in this country. This attitude of putting the blame on women does nothing but fester predatory tendencies among men and shields them from accountability. Men know that women who speak up will suffer much graver consequences than they would for their crime. And they use this as a weapon to silence women, to keep them from resisting their unwanted advances.

In fact, it is failing to protect girls from abuse which should bring tarnish to the society.

Shaming girls for standing up to sexually inappropriate behaviour is something a person should feel ashamed about. Such people are enablers of predatory behaviour and they should at once be relieved of any power they hold. So in this case, Singh and not the girl, must be expelled from school, for failing to do his job as the head of an organisation and as a responsible citizen. That is the only way to put across to people that their understanding of what ‘tarnishes social image’ needs a 180-degree spin.

It is the right of every girl to seek safety and justice, from sexual misconduct. The society should feel ashamed that women have to ask for these basic rights. A reversal in mindset is thus the only way we can encourage women to stand up against sexual crimes without any fear of repercussions.

Also Read : Why Collecting Water Turns Millions Of Women Into Second-Class Citizens

Yamini Pustake Bhalerao is a writer with the SheThePeople team, in the Opinions section.  The views expressed are the author’s own.

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