Thousands of girl students from Patna Women’s College, a prominent Christian missionary college in Patna, took to the streets, shouted slogans and blocked traffic for hours together on Friday enraged at frequent sexual harassment by male teachers. The protesting girls are demanding the arrest of the accused teacher and dismissal of the college principal.
The girls lost their cool after the college principal Dr Sister Marie Jessie allegedly sought to ignore their complaint and appeared to be siding with the teacher in question Sanjay Dutta. The angry girls, backed by the various students’ organisation tried to break open the huge iron gates of the college that were locked and then blocked the Bailey Road, said to be the lifeline of Patna, throwing traffic out of gear for hours together. It was after much effort by the police that the traffic could be cleared.
The problem began last week when a group of girls approached the college principal to complain against the teacher. When the principal sought a proof, the girls submitted a video that allegedly showed the teacher making sexual advances towards a girl. Instead of initiating any action, the principal, however, threatened to initiate action against the girls and asked them leave her chamber. “He only touched, not raped you,” was how students quoted the principal as having told them during the meeting.
Later one of them posted the message on social media, which went viral. The situation took a turn for the worse after the principal expelled the girl who had posted the message on Facebook and also sought a list of girls who had “liked” the message or posted comments. This only stoked anger as various student leaders hailing from various political parties rushed to the college to stage a massive stir. Emboldened by the support, the girls came out on the streets seeking action against the college administration.
“It is very suffocating. While we are being sexually harassed by male teachers, the principal has been supporting her staff. She says ‘you feel good when your boyfriends touch you, but feel bad when a teacher does the same’. This is very bad. We had not expected this from the principal,” alleged a girl student who was part of the protesting mob. She added they would not withdraw their agitation until severe punitive action was taken against the teacher and the principal was sacked.
“We have registered a case against the accused teacher and investigation is on,” said the local district superintendent of police Chandan Kushwaha.