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Sexual harassment by troops triggers surge in Murippu school dropouts

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01:27 BST

Sexual harassment by military personnel has led to a surge in girls dropping out of school in Murippu, Kilinochchi, local sources said this weekend. Murippu is a small village on the Akkarayalkulam-Kilinochchi road.

Girls attending Murippu Mahavidiyalayam and Akkarayankulam School are subject to persistent sexual harassment from troops based at Murippu Army camp and adjacent cantonments, they said.

Girls walking or cycling to school, and even those using private vehicles, are being subject to lewd comments and soldiers exposing themselves, the sources told Tamil Guardian.

Military personnel, clad only in their underwear or sometimes naked, were calling out girls’ names, and girls were also being stopped by troops making sexual suggestions, the sources said.

The incidents have left the girls and their parents distressed and fearful of sexual violence, and increasing numbers of families pulling their daughters out of school and many girls are refusing to travel down the single access road to the schools.

The parents have unsuccessfully petitioned local NGOs to organise buses for their children’s safe travel. Moreover, a female NGO worker also reported being stopped by an officer who exposed his genitals, as girls in school uniform were cycling by, the sources said.

The sudden surge in drop outs had at first baffled school staff. Although sexual harassment became clear as the cause, parents and local residents are hesitant to lodge complaint with the military or police for fear of reprisals, the sources said.

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