Schoolbus staff victims of sexual allegations?

School bus helpers in the UAE say they are always being falsely blamed by parents of sexual misconduct. The reaction follows the quashing of a case against one of their colleagues by a Sharjah court.

The Indian school bus helper was arrested last December following a complaint by the parent of a four-and-a-half year old KG1 girl student that their daughter was sexually assaulted on the school bus.

Last year three other suspects working in a bus operating on behalf of GEMS Education were also acquitted of a sexual misconduct case by a Dubai court following investigations.

The three were accused by the parents of a four-year-old girl studying in a GEMS School in Dubai of sexual misconduct and rape. The acquittal by the Dubai Court of First Instance was based on the medical reports presented before the court, lack of translator and contradictory confessions made by the accused during investigations.

Speaking to 'Emirates24|7' many school bus helpers from Dubai and Sharjah said they were relieved of the two verdicts and said that it has helped them gain back some respect and dignity that they had lost because of such false cases.

“I still remember the first few days after the Sharjah Indian school incident. I work at the same school and when we resumed work after the school holidays, all parents looked at us as if we were villains.

We had lost all self esteem and respect among the community. Everyone was suspicious of us. Life was very difficult,” said the 42 year old man who has been working with the school for more than five years.

According to a driver at the JSS International in Dubai they take care of kids like their own children. “Even we have children going to school back in India. We take care of these kids just like our own children. From the time they get into the school bus and until they are safely handed over to their parents they are under our safeguard and we take that responsibility very seriously,” he said.

According to him there are chances that some incidents could have occurred in the past. “We cannot totally rule out anything. I am not saying all of us are angels. But it is wrong to look down on every man working in a school bus and perceive him to be a potencies molester,”he added.

Another helper from the Delhi Public School in Sharjah said they were so scared that they even avoid speaking to a child on the bus.

“The kids are innocent. One day a child wanted me to pick her down from the bus. I deliberately avoided it. However, difficult or late it gets I now ensure that the child is led by her hand down the stairs near the door of the bus,” he said.

Yet another driver from the Sharjah Indian School said some parents would also accuse the bus helpers because they find no one else to blame. “Ät times it is even based on some personal grudge,” he added.

Meanwhile, in a startling revelation a recent study has pointed out that one in every four girl child in India is subject to sexual abuse before the age of four.

A study by the Ministry of Women and Child Development in India 2007 found that 53.22 per cent  of children reported having faced sexual abuse. Majority of them were boys. According to the study about 50per cent of those who had abused the children were known to the child.

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