The killing of a boy allegedly by a school bus conductor who tried to sexually abuse him has put the spotlight on the safety of children. A study shows half of all children in India have been a victim of sexual abuse.
Angry parents converged on a school in the city of Gurugram, near Delhi, after a 7-year-old boy was found with his throat slit in the school washroom on Friday. He was allegedly murdered by a school bus conductor, who tried to sexually abuse him.
The bus conductor was arrested on Friday after police questioned several staff members and students.
"The school could not even provide basic security for my son, how will then parents send children to school?" Jyoti, the child's mother, asked India's ANI news agency.
The protesting parents said the arrest was not enough and demanded action against Gurugram-based Ryan International School, where the victim studied. The school has suspended the principal and assured cooperation with the investigators.
The government-controlled Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) has set up a fact-finding team to investigate the matter.
"The murder of the 7-year old is unfortunate. We all should introspect to ensure such incidents are not repeated in the future. It's like a warning to schools and parents," said India's education minister, Prakash Javadekar.
Nobel Laureate Kailash Satyarthi termed the murder "another act of shame." He tweeted "once again we mourn the death of innocence, freedom and smiles of our children."
Rampant abuse of children
The incident has exposed just how susceptible children in India are to abuse. This week, a 54-year-old British man was arrested for sexually abusing three blind students in the Indian capital, New Delhi.
According to India's National Crime Records Bureau, almost 100,000 crimes against children were reported in 2015. More than a third of them were sexual crimes.
But experts say that many more cases probably go unreported, for fear of ostracism, "family honor" or simply ignorance on the part of the victim.
A 2007 study by India's Ministry of Women and Child Development found that 53 percent of children faced some form of sexual abuse growing up. In most cases the abusers were known to the victims.