Toilet torture replaces cane in some schools

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By ANANYA SENGUPTA
  • Published 30.03.12
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Painful punishment

New Delhi, March 29: Block the loo and train the child.

If a recent report of the National Commission of Child Rights is to be believed, barring students bathroom breaks seems to be teachers’ favourite form of punishment.

According to the report, “Eliminating Corporal Punishment in Schools”, released earlier this month, almost 18 per cent students are not allowed to go to the restroom as punishment for bad behaviour in class.

This is at the top of the list of corporal punishments meted out to students other than bodily harm in different forms.

The report says state schools are stricter with girls than boys as far as trips to the toilet are concerned. About 16.2 per cent girls and 15 per cent boys reported that they were stopped from using the bathroom.

Central schools have shown a slight leniency towards girls with 10 per cent not being allowed to use the bathroom as against 12 per cent boys. In private schools, almost 20 per cent boys and 19 per cent girls said they were denied toilet breaks.

“I have been denied permission to go to the toilet by the teacher on numerous occasions. Believe me, it is not only the most painful but it is the most humiliating as well,” says 14-year-old Sudha Srinivasan who studies in a private school in Delhi.

“While girls are beaten as much as the boys, there are two punishments which teachers pick for girls most often: pulling our hair and denying bathroom breaks. Both are painful. I have seen my friends doubling up with pain from trying to control their urge to go to the toilet. Some have even done it in class. It’s humiliating.”

Contrary to the perception that teachers beat girls less, the report says that no gender-based distinction is made while meting out harsh punishment.

“The need to use the toilet has an added dimension in the case of adolescent girls, arising out of distinct bodily processes. However, schools seem to lack this sensitivity and often treat girls and boys in a similar way.”

The report says schools expected students to leave age-appropriate traits at home and behave in a guarded and controlled manner. About 82 per cent children were beaten up because they could not control hunger and thirst or needed to relieve themselves during class hours.

“This kind of punishment is specially harsh on students as it tends to humiliate them much more. While a very young child will be traumatised, students in middle school will feel humiliated but wouldn’t understand the reason behind the punishment. Older students might feel that they are being discriminated against,” said Myrtle Barse, a former professor of sociology in Mumbai University.

“A child who cannot control the urge to go to the toilet and urinates in class might even turn suicidal as it’s a major sociological and psychological trauma. This humiliation would stay with the child forever. There is need to address the situation on a war footing if we don’t want dysfunctional kids.”