This blog needs to be written, though it pains me to do so.
Today I witnessed about 30 girls in turn being flogged by a teacher, with something resembling a cat-o-nine tails, made out of knotted ropes. It seems this guy is appointed to the task as I have seen him perform this duty before. He was taking his time over it while the girls waited nervously for their turn; I can only interpret this as a deliberate intention on his part to heighten the fear factor among the girls and maximize the effect ‘pour encourager les autres’ . He was watched, by four other teachers and a large crowd of girls as their friends were publicly ’dealt with’ and ran off sobbing afterwards. Each girl received five or six lashes across back and shoulders while in a kneeling position on the gravel floor. The girls would raise their arms in self defence and the teacher seek out an unprotected area before delivering his blow, which came with some force being in a raised position. You could hear the lashes across the school site.
I don’t know what the girls had done to deserve this treatment – I suspect nothing much! Earlier, I had seen a class of girls whose teacher was not in school, left to their own devices with no attempt to provide cover or ‘absorb’ them. They were a bit noisy but some had taken the initiative and gone into the next room, which was vacant – actually a building still under construction! – to do some private study. This class received a tongue lashing from a passing teacher and I think this was the same group of girls who were singled out for corporal punishment.
I made my feelings on this issue known in my first weeks in this school when I first witnessed it. I met with wry smiles from teachers present, including senior management, when I made my comments. Since them I had not seen a repeat until today’s humiliation.
I now need to think through what course of action I should take. Having witnessed this I cannot let it lie.