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Girls teased, harassed only because they want to attend classes

By Aroosa Masroor
Karachi: The absence of a boundary wall around Rafah-e-Aam Bala Government Girls Secondary School, Malir Halt, for over 20 years now has become a source of worry for students and staff members who continue to be harassed by passers-by on daily basis, The News has learnt.
Situated on the Gymkhana Ground in Rafah-e-Aam Society, Malir, the school comprises only five classrooms and two rooms for the staff rooms. During a visit to the school, The News observed that since there is no boundary wall to define the school premises the two gates of the corridor also serve as the school’s main gate confining the 250 female students to their classrooms.
“Eve-teasing has become the norm. Since there is no wall, boys from the neighbouring areas throw stones through windows to distract the female students, whistle at them and take pictures through their cell phone cameras. Girls all also harassed by young men riding motorcycles without silencers in the area. All this disturbs the peace of a classroom,” disclosed a teacher, Aisha Usman.
Moreover, on Wednesdays, the weekly bachat bazaar set up a few metres away from the school is a major source of distraction for students. As if that is not enough, after 12 noon, the Gymkhana ground is used for various purposes like cricket and football matches. What is even more ironic is the fact that outsiders use the plot for sports activities, while students of this school are deprived of extra-curricular activities.
“Forget sports, we don’t even have proper space for daily school assemblies that have to be organised in the corridor,” said another teacher, Mrs Nasreen. It was also learnt that the students have no choice but to spend their recess in their classrooms as their teachers do not let them step out. “Sometimes the girls complain that they feel like they are imprisoned, but we can’t help it. They are our responsibility and we are answerable to their parents. We cannot allow them to roam outside because it is unsafe.”
The headmaster of the school, Ghulam Yaseen, sounded even more infuriated when asked to comment. “The government spending on the education sector is negligible, but the country is receiving enough from donor agencies abroad. Where is all that money going? How can officials claim to spend even a portion of that money when a school like ours is deprived of a basic need like a boundary wall?” he questioned. “Education in our country has become a joke,” he added.
His views are echoed by all his staff members who added that several complaints against the nuisance in the area have been lodged with the UC Nazim of the area (UC-6, Malir Town) and the relevant government departments, but no action has been taken yet. The fact that over 20 years have passed makes them all the more hopeless, they said.
It was, however, learnt that two years back some officials visited the site and took measurements around the plot promising that the construction of the wall will soon begin, but they did not return. Some teachers felt the management of the weekly bazaar resisted the move and bribed the officials. The News made several attempts to contact EDO Education Ibrahim Kunber to inquire why the CDGK continues to neglect this school in its jurisdiction, but he could not be reached.
The school runs in two shifts, with the boys attending school in the morning shift and girls in the afternoon. Staff members, however, said this school was the first of its kind where female students were asked to attend school in the afternoon shift which has added to the inconvenience. “At times it is the male students of our own school who stay back after their school ends in order to harass the female students in the afternoon shift,” Mrs Nasreen, another staff member, who has been associated with the school for over a decade, said.
Some teachers were of the opinion that the least the government could do at this point is interchange the two shifts so the female students feel less harassed. Owing to this, many parents have become apprehensive and are willing to reconsider the thought of educating their daughters after primary school, they said. “Does the government realise how by neglecting this serious issue they are depriving girls from being educated?” lamented a teacher, Safia Begum.
Since Malir is a low-income neighbourhood of Karachi, most parents cannot afford to send their children to private schools, but with the state of government schools and insecurity in the area, teachers fear the strength of students even in government schools may decrease in the coming years.
Source: The News

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