x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Parents to guard buses after alleged rape of girl, 4

School wants parents to volunteer on buses after allegations that a four-year-old girl was raped while being taken home.

DUBAI // A school appealed to mothers yesterday to volunteer as school bus attendants after allegations that a four-year-old girl was sexually assaulted on one of its buses.

Teachers have volunteered to accompany school buses but it is "increasing difficult to continue", a circular issued to parents by the school principal said. "We would like to appeal to parent volunteers (mothers) to help us over this time until we get female attendants in place," the note said.

A bus driver, another worker and a supervisor at the school have been in custody since January 13, when the girl's father told police she had been molested on the school bus. The incident is said to have happened in November but was reported only after the family took the child for a check-up.

Police say the three Indian men, aged 26, 37 and 44, have confessed. Prosecutors are awaiting the results of forensic tests.

Parents of pupils at the school yesterday welcomed the additional security steps. "I have no problem in volunteering on the buses while the school looks for female attendants," said Gurleen Anand, mother of a KG2 pupil.

"They should have asked the parents to do this a long time ago. But I would feel safer if there were CCTV cameras on buses as well."

Another parent said she did not mind being asked to help as a temporary solution. "I expect the school and bus provider to take the responsibility of hiring staff to ensure safety on the buses and campus," she said.

The circular also outlined steps taken to educate pupils about reporting incidents. "Age-appropriate details of personal safety and hygiene were conveyed through puppetry and role play," it said. The sessions involved pupils, their teachers and a counsellor.