India: Mob attacks schoolgirls for confronting sexual harassers

KONFRONTASI-Campaigners are calling on India to protect girls in state-run institutions who are at risk of sexual assault and violence after 34 girls were violently attacked by a mob for fighting off sexual harassers in Bihar state.

Kasturba Gandhi Balika Vidyalaya, a residential school for girls in Supaul district, witnessed chaotic scenes on Saturday after some girls objected to sexual advances and lewd messages from a group of boys.

A mob comprising the boys and their parents later entered the school where they beat and injured dozens of girls aged between 12 and 14.

"The girls were playing inside the school compound when some boys came in and tried to sexually harass them. The girls fought them off and there was an altercation. A mob then gathered with the boys' parents who beat up the girls," Jagatpati Chaudhury, the District Education Officer in Supaul, told Al Jazeera.

"The girls were injured, shocked, in trauma and were rushed to hospital. These were scenes of havoc as most of the girls are in sixth and seventh grades."

A video uploaded on social media by a local news website, The Bihar Post, showed a girl from the school after the attack.

"They were beating up all the girls. They tore our clothes and took away our dupattas [scarves]," said a young girl who was sobbing at the hospital.

Police say they have arrested two people and detained four in connection with the incident.

District magistrate Baidyanath Yadav said local boys used to write lewd messages on the school walls. Local media reports suggest the girls at the school were routinely harassed.