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Parliament to launch probe into abuse claims in schools

Bahrain News
Thu, 09 Nov 2017

PARLIAMENT will launch a probe into alleged cases of molestation and sexual assault among students in government schools.

Concerns have been raised over claims that gangs of students were assaulting their classmates at intermediate and secondary schools with the victims often staying silent due to fears of backlash or being shamed.

The request for the investigation was submitted yesterday to parliament chairman Ahmed Al Mulla’s office by five MPs led by foreign affairs, defence and national security committee vice-chairman Khalifa Al Ghanim.

“Out of every 10 molestation cases that actually occur nine go unpunished, with the victims forced to remain silent either because they fear being shamed or seeing a backlash from the assaulting gang,” he said.

“We have asked the Education Ministry to install surveillance cameras across schools, whether internal corridors, classrooms, the library and other facilities used by students including toilets.

“External surveillance cameras and the presence of community police besides security guards have helped reduce cases of terrorist attacks either Molotov cocktails being hurled inside campuses from the outside, vandalism and sabotage, but problems within still remain an issue.

“Criminal minded students would take every opportunity against defenceless students, not just by bullying them but through carefully planned premeditated sexual assault and rape.”

He added that in many cases a group of students would target a classmate for several days before cornering them in a classroom or bathroom.

“Recently, a student in an East Riffa intermediate school managed to escape because the janitor walked in accidentally, but it is unfortunate that others who were victimised didn’t have luck on their side,” he said.

“What compounds their misery is that they can’t open their mouths afterwards and this in return changes their attitude, harms their educational achievement, and could lead them down the wrong path.

“This is happening at all school levels, whether boys or girls, and when students decide to break their silence all evidence against the culprits is (forensically) gone.”

Mr Al Ghanim said officials from the Education Ministry, Health Ministry and Interior Ministry would be summoned to parliament to address the issue.

“If the Education Ministry can’t afford surveillance cameras then the Interior Ministry can and in all cases security should be a joint task,” he added.

“The Health Ministry should be conducting regular courses and lectures amongst the students to educate them on the dangers of homosexuality and related sexual activities.

“These are just ideas and when the actual probe starts we will have to reach conclusions for the safety and well-being of our children that would be implemented with immediate effect.”

The Education Ministry was unavailable for comment yesterday.

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