In a shocking and shameful incident, it has come to light that a number of girl students of the junior section of an English medium missionary school in Bolpur, West Bengal were allegedly forced to take off their leggings. The pretext behind this unconscionable was that the colour of their leggings did not match to the school uniform. This has sparked off protests by the parents of the girl students. The incident came in limelight on Tuesday after the protesting parents gathered outside the missionary school on Tuesday morning, a day after the shocking incident took place.
The parents of the girl students, aged between five and nine years, have stated that their daughters had worn leggings to the school on Monday as the weather has turned cool in the mornings. The father of one of the girl students has revealed the horrific details of the shameful incident. He said, “When my daughter returned home on Monday afternoon I found she was without her leggings. When asked she said that the class teacher had taken it off during tiffin time.” He added, “I have heard that the principal had ordered the class teachers to do so … My daughter has been wearing leggings to school during winters in the last two years.”
Meanwhile, the school authorities have taken a cavalier and casual approach to the unjustifiable incident. Defending the action, the school principal, Sister Archana Fernandez has said that it was not a case of forcing the students to remove their leggings. Giving a bizarre explanation, she said, “The students were only asked to submit their leggings as they did not conform to the school’s dress code.” The school authorities have thus given an unreasonable and unconvincing explanation. She even tried to express surprise at why the parents were even agitating about this issue and said, “The parents were warned many times in the past when children wore dresses that are not approved by our dress code. But the allegation that the children were stripped is incorrect. We have tendered our apology. I cannot understand why the parents are still agitating.”
A senior school teacher, Jaher Ali Mondal has also defended the school authorities. He said that the school has a dress, but the leggings that the students wore did not conform to it. He claimed, “They [students] were only asked to change their leggings, none was forced to take them off.”
Meanwhile, a complaint was also filed at the Shantiniketan police station. The father of a child said, “I was shocked to see my child coming out of the school without her leggings. She did not have an underwear. This is outrageous. The head mistress should resign.” Some of the parents have said that their kids were not wearing underwear under their leggings and therefore, by forcing them to undress, the school outraged the modesty of the girl students and shamed them.
This egregious incident does not only deserve to be condemned in the strongest possible terms but should also be brought to a quick and reasonable conclusion. Those found guilty must be punished promptly given the kind of danger that they pose to girls and women of the society in general. The state government must also consider taking strict action against the school authorities for this unpardonable wrong.