By Feenzu Sherpa
Nanda Prasad Niraula, believed to be in his 50s and a teacher in Shree Narayan Basic School, has been accused of molesting his girl students during school hours.
Nineteen girl students of the Lalitpur-based school submitted a hand-written letter to Principal Sabita Silwal on Friday morning, stating their plight. All 19 students are below 13 years of age, including some as young as nine years. They have accused Niraula of ‘caressing their back, touching their chest, touching their private parts and acting obscenely’.
Principal of the school informed that Niraula was transferred to the school around a year ago after similar complaints were filed against him in the two schools where he used to teach earlier.
Though the principal called a board meeting after receiving the letter, teachers were divided on whether to take legal action against Niraula or not. Some teachers were concerned that ‘it would give a bad name to the school’.
Though Niraula was arrested, he was later released on personal recognisance the very day. The school administration has not filed an FIR against Niraula as of yet.
According to Article 68 of the Act Relating to Children, ‘If the father, mother, guardian and those who directly provide services to children such as caregivers, teachers, health workers or any other person come to know about an incident of violence against children or child sexual abuse that has taken place, that is taking place or that is going to take place, she/he shall inform the nearest police station immediately.’
Why do we need feminism you ask? Lest we forget, young girls are still being subjected to sexual assault and forced to keep quiet about it.
However, this is not the first case where the perpetrator gets to be free due to the lack of a formal police complaint.
In the early 2019, Lalitpur Madhyamik Vidhyalaya alumni started collected testimonials from over 40 students, accusing five teachers including Bodha Raj ‘Basu’ Tripathee, Suman KC and Gokul Sharma of various degrees of molestation, abuse and harassment.
The parents of one of the girls who qualified to file an FIR backed down, according to media reports, leaving one to wonder if it was the girl’s decision or the parents’ to not file an FIR.
Similarly, an investigation by The Kathmandu Post in January 2019, found previously undisclosed allegations against 65-year-old lecturer Krishna Bahadur Bhattachan of Tribhuvan University stretching over last several years, based on interviews with three former students and their friends who had been directly advised by him.
One of the survivors of Bhattachan’s abuse said, “We were all worried about finishing our studies and so could not afford to jeopardise our relationship with such a powerful man.”
The professor denied all allegations by alumni saying ‘if they did feel that way then, they should have told me’ and no actions were taken by the university against the professor.
These are only some of the reported incidents of teachers and other men in power abusing unsuspecting women and girls. Such incidents mostly go unreported and are pushed under the rug under various pretexts, mostly to save the perpetrators’ reputation.
Remaining silent and thinking ‘it’s just who that man is’ leads to untoward consequences. Policymakers, the government as well as parents should take strict action against such demeaning activity to protect women’s rights.