Thirty-four Indian schoolgirls have been hospitalised after being attacked for resisting the sexual advances of a group of boys.
- Mob of about 15 men and women thrashed the girls with canes and rods
- The girls were aged between 10 and 14
- A local police officer blamed the girls for the incident
It is the latest incident in what seems like an unending trend of women being harassed and abused by men in India.
The girls were in a school playground in the northern state of Bihar when they took umbrage at local boys teasing them and writing lewd graffiti on the walls nearby.
One of the boys was upset by the girls’ rebuffing his advances and brought his mother and a group of other local women and men back to the playground.
The mob allegedly started bashing the schoolgirls with sticks and their bare hands, injuring dozens of them badly enough that they had to be hospitalised.
“Suddenly the girls started screaming and shouting,” a school staff member identified as Reema told the Times of India newspaper.
“I saw around 15 people, both men and women, thrashing the girls with canes and rods,” she said.
The girls were between the ages of 10 and 14.
Nine people have been arrested over the incident.
Local media say police have heard from the girls that the boys would often write vulgar words on the walls inside their school and harass them.
But a local police officer, Mrityunjay Kumar Choudhary, blamed the girls for the incident.
“The boys and their parents were agitated because the girl students had beaten up the boys,” he told local news outlet the Hindustan Times.
The incident sparked a protest which saw people block traffic in support of the girls, a handful of whom remain in hospital.
Verbal sexual harassment is referred to in India as ‘eve-teasing’, and many young men and boys see it as an acceptable way to treat women.
Women are often blamed or urged to take responsibility for the problem.
An article in the Indian blog The Better India wrote: “The best way to combat eve-teasing and molestation is to stay alert.
“Molestation and eve-teasing cases are not easy to prove, so try to gather as much as evidence you can.
“They will continue to be prevalent, unless women step up and become smart, alert, and safe.”