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He hounded me down and threatened me

2013 Jul 01


After I had passed the GCE A/L exam, I was selected to follow the Arts degree at the University of Kelaniya. On passing out as a graduate in 2005, I was appointed as a teacher at the Isuru Navodya School, and since then, I have been teaching students in the Sinhala stream. I am the Head of the Student Leaders' Committee. I am also the Head of Grades 10 and 11, a member of the Disciplinary Board as well as the school's Management Committee.



There are a number of tasks to be performed by the Disciplinary Board Committee. The Principal and the Disciplinary Committee had all along informed the students of the disciplinary procedures, of which there are many. The children are reminded of these procedures, on and off, during assembly and in the mornings before lessons commence. There are also notices and boards placed at the entrance to the school regarding rules and regulations governing discipline. As the students are inclined to mimic current trends, the dress code, the manner in which their hair is combed and the mobile phones they carry are checked by student leaders. This is done as a practice every morning, when the children enter school, while the Principal and members of the Disciplinary Committee supervise the exercise. If a child has committed a wrong, and is brought before us, we tell the child what should and should not, be done. We warn and advise the children concerned, and caution the child against repeating the mistake. Most of the children are obedient, while a few of them do not obey the rules.



At times, we detect two or three students who wear short uniforms. We advise such students on the dress code and the following day we see them adhering to the rules. When students are found to be wearing short uniforms, the student leaders are told to undo the hem to lengthen the uniform, and they are given safety pins to keep the hem in place. Such children are also advised to ensure they wear uniforms with the correct length, and the children abide by our instructions in this regard. This is an accepted disciplinary procedure in the school. The students and parents are well aware of these rules and regulations. At the time students are admitted to the school, the parents are notified about the procedures.



Friday, 14 June



On 14 June (Friday) too, an inspection was carried out. Girls in Grades 7 and 8 who were found to be flouting the rules were made to undo the hems of their uniforms, and keep the hem in place with safety pins.

After school was over that day, I was seated in a shed just outside the school, waiting for my husband, who would come with our child to fetch me.



At the time, a few children, the Vice Principal and some non-academic staff members were also there. Suddenly, a woman in a white dress came dashing towards me. She began screaming at me, saying furiously, "This is how you treat us," using foul language as well. She thereafter said, "Okay, we'll give an answer to that," and left the school premises, screaming at the top of her voice. She was Provincial Council Member, Sarath Kumara's wife. At the time she was shouting at me, I told her, "Yes, I did undo the hem of your daughter's uniform. If you have a grouse, you can complain to the Vice Principal who is here."



A little while later, the Vice Principal and members of the office staff came over to where I was seated. Just then, the Vice Principal received a call on his mobile phone. After answering the call, he asked me whether I had lengthened the hem of the uniform of a student who is the daughter of PC Member. I replied that I was not aware of whose daughter a student could be but all the students were subjected to disciplinary procedures, as laid down by the school. The Vice Principal said, "But you should have exempted that girl from the disciplinary rule because the incident has now triggered off a major issue."



The ordeal



After a while, somebody told me that a manthrithuma (local body member) had arrived. The vehicle was parked in front of the school, on the road. Somebody told me to hide as it would be dangerous for me to be where I was seated. I ran immediately to a building further away, and hid. I could hear the 'member' shouting at the top of his voice, "Where is that woman? I am looking for her." He had then gone from class to class and into other rooms in search of me. I could also hear him scolding me in filthy language. I was trembling in fear. When he could not find me, he asked a member of the non academic staff for the lock and the key to the gate at the entrance of the school. When he had got them, he had locked the gate, kept the key with him, and went away. Before he left, and while he was searching for me inside the school, he shouted at the children following afternoon classes and ordered them to go away. The children, in fear, had run away.

The master who conducts karate classes had also been a target of abuse in the choicest language. "What karate do you know? I know better karate than you. Keep running," he had screamed, using foul language in the process.



Threats and abuse



When everything had calmed down, I came out from where I was hiding. The others who were in the school were getting ready to go out from another side of the garden, as the main gate had been locked. Just then the PC Member came in his double cab from that side of the road. I immediately ran towards the middle of the school grounds. The PC Member, wearing a pair of shorts, appeared like a monster. He was carrying a club and was in a demonic rage. He came directly towards me, abusing me in raw filth. I can say that a thousand foul words would have spurted out from his mouth. The words were so filthy that they cannot be repeated. The PC Member or rather the 'monster' thundered, saying, "You are the one who undid the hem of my daughter's uniform. Now, I have come to remove your clothes and send you naked on the road,"



I said, "If I have committed a wrong, please pardon me." He screamed, "Pardon? You must ask pardon from my daughter by kneeling before her. Do that now. No, you must seek my daughter's pardon at the assembly on Monday in front of all the students, by touching her feet." And
then he lifted the club to assault me. I was so scared.
I pleaded with him, saying 'please don't assault me.' The 'member' who behaved like a demon at that time, yelled again, "Para belli (low-bred bitch), kneel down right before me. I did not comply. He ordered me three times to kneel before him, and came towards me to assault me. I was desperate and helpless. I began crying, and even without my knowledge, I had fallen at his feet. I felt something would happen to me because no one came to my rescue. I had the feeling I was dealing with the devil incarnate.



Even while this ordeal was going on, he continued to berate me in filthy language. After about four or five minutes, he started to leave. I felt momentary relief as I saw him turn away, but he came back and yelled at me again, and ordered me, saying, "Para belli. Fall at my feet," which I did.



I felt abandoned, alone and helpless. I thought to myself, what a cursed person I am to be subjected to such ill-treatment for no wrong I had committed, except trying to reform a student.

The PC Member was still not satisfied with what he had put me through, as he continued to stay there, shouting and scolding me.



I remained kneeling for about 20 minutes or more. I felt my head reeling and my head began to ache as well. After he left, I went home, crying all the way.

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