RIYADH, 5 October 2007 — A 19-year-old student of Pakistan International School, Riyadh (PISR), was still fighting for her life yesterday at a local hospital after she attempted to commit suicide by jumping from the second floor of the school building on Saturday.

It is believed that the girl, Safia Asif jumped due to harassment and coarse comments made by her teacher, who has since fled the country. Asif’s family also claim the teacher physically assaulted their daughter.

The parents have spoken strongly against allowing the children to be harassed in the classrooms. The family of the victim has also complained that they are being intimidated since they approached the police.

Asked how this incident took place, Javed, father of Safia, accused school officials of being negligent in their response to the emergency.

“The school authorities neither arranged an ambulance nor informed me in time despite the fact that my daughter was found lying unconscious in a pool of blood on the ground floor of the PISR Girls Wing,” he said. “The delay in shifting Safia to the hospital in fact complicated her case and she was lying in coma for three days in a row.”

Chaudhury Rahmat Ali, secretary to the PISR Board of Directors School, denied that the school was slow to respond to the crisis and that the school is “cooperating fully” with the family.

“Our school nurse together with the victim’s relatives rushed Safia to the hospital and we have also pledged to pay the whole cost of treatment,” said Ali, who said parents not involved in the case are trying to exploit the tragedy for their own reasons.

Javed, however, disagrees, claiming that he was only informed about the incident at 2:35 p.m. over and hour and a half after his daughter jumped.

Javed called on the Saudi officials and the Pakistani Embassy to extend support to his family at this moment of grief and sorrow. The parents and relatives of the victim have also demanded the immediate arrest of teacher and sufficient monetary compensation to the family for the treatment and rehabilitation of Safia.

According to the girl’s parents, Safia has suffered multiple injuries and fractures including the fracture of her collarbone.

Safia is the fourth among nine sisters and one son. Safia’s family is from the port city of Karachi.

According to the girl’s parents, the incident began when the teacher first searched the school bag of the student on suspicion that she was hiding something. All she found, they said, was a small chain and face powder.

PISR parents led by Abdul Ghaffor Bhatti don’t agree with the school’s version of the events or its characterization of the parents’ reaction. He said that the PISR Board of Directors had so far not come forward to help the child or her family. He said that repeated cases of harassment at the hands of the teachers interferes with students’ ability to learn, study, work or participate in school activities.

“My deep sympathy is with Asif’s family members, who sit now near the hospital bedside daily during Ramadan,” he said.

Add Comment