School stops gang-rape survivor from taking end of year exams: ‘Will spoil atmosphere’

Social activist protesting crime against women in India (AFP via Getty Images)
Social activist protesting crime against women in India (AFP via Getty Images)

A school in India has been accused of prohibiting a teen gang-rape survivor from appearing for her end-of-year examinations.

The class 12 student from Rajasthan state, who survived rape by her uncle and two other men in October 2023, claimed that the school officials told her that she would spoil the "atmosphere".

In her complaint to the Ajmer district Child Welfare Commission (CWC), the girl said she had been studying at home for the past four months instead of going to classes as per the school's suggestion.

When the student went to collect her admit card in March, the school officials allegedly claimed she was no longer a student at the school.

The school authorities, however, said the student was denied the admit card as she had not attended classes for the past four months, NDTV reported.

Following the incident, the student complained to the state's child rights body, prompting the CWC to file a case and initiate an investigation.

CWC chair Anjali Sharma told the broadcaster that the priority would be to ensure that the girl could take the exams she missed in March.

"When I spoke to the girl, she told me that she was dejected as she is a bright student. She had scored 79 per cent [marks] in her class 10 board exams," Ms Sharma said.

"... but she may lose a year due to the school's negligence," she added.

India is notorious for its unfair treatment towards survivors of sexual assault in a country where at least 31,516 rape cases were reported in 2022, a 20 per cent increase from 2021, according to the National Crime Records Bureau.

The real figure is believed to be far higher due to the stigma surrounding sexual violence and victims' lack of faith in the police.

Women's rights activists say the problem is particularly acute in rural areas, where the communities often shame the survivors.

In Rajasthan, another complaint has been filed against a magistrate for allegedly asking a gang-rape survivor to take off her clothes to show her bruises.

The incident took place last month when the woman visited the magistrate's office to record her statement, according to India Today. She was asked to enter the office, strip and show her injuries while her family members and a woman police officer stood outside.

India's rape law was amended in 2013, criminalising stalking and voyeurism and lowering the age at which a person can be tried as an adult from 18 to 16. Despite stringent laws, rights activists say the government is still not doing enough to protect women and punish attackers.

In November 2019, three Haryana state government college professors were suspended for allegedly preventing a gang-rape survivor from appearing for her exams.

The professors had allegedly prevented the student from taking her Chemistry exam in May as they couldn’t let her write the exam in a separate room. The survivor had been provided additional security and until then wrote her semester exams with security personnel in a separate room.