Third-grade student Fatima, 8, was harshly beaten by her religious education teacher for not wearing the veil. This incident happened in the Khawla Bint Al Azwar School in the Madaen district of Baghdad on Nov. 15. Different photos and reports showed marks of the harsh beating on her face, where red and purple bruises clearly appeared alongside impressions of fingers.
Fatima is one of many Iraqi children who suffer from violence in school. This phenomenon has become very worrying for activists and civil society groups, which demand an end to the violence and call for imposing strict sanctions on the perpetrators and avoiding the coercion of students because of their religious and personal opinions.
Al-Monitor found out that the chief of education in Fatima’s school region and the school principal formed a committee on Nov. 20 that investigated the incident without officially taking a decision on what happened. The committee was formed in the wake of extensive media and civil pressure from TV channels, social media and newspapers. It is expected that the committee will not take any serious decision due to the grave lack of legislation and to the absence of governmental will to confront violence against children in schools.
Speaking to Al-Sharqiya Channel, the teacher who beat Fatima said, “The child is to be blamed in this incident because she did not wear the veil. The punishment was not serious. It was merely a few blows to the face. Besides, the child’s parents gave me permission to discipline her if she misbehaved.”
Moreover, the teacher submitted a report about the decision of the aforementioned committee that was formed for this purpose and which had acquitted her of any responsibility for what happened. The teacher added that she is not the only one who hits children and that spankings every now and then is necessary for discipline, with no harm caused.