London- There has been widespread anger on social media after a video was circulated showing Baluchestan schoolgirls from the Kerman province in southeast Iran being flogged after failing to pay their tuition fees.
In the video, girls speaking the Farsi language with Baluchestan’s accent explained in detail how each of them was flogged eight times by the school principal for being unable to pay the fees due to poverty.
And while Iranian websites had showed the video, saying the accident happened at a school in the city of Rudbar Jonubi, which is inhabited by the Baluch, the Tabnak website close to the Iranian Revolutionary Guard denied the girls’ comments, referring to comments made by the school’s principal and head of the Education Directorate in the area.
Habib-Allah Serbazi, head of the Baluch Activists Campaign, told Asharq Al-Awsat that the accident happened after schools in the area started demanding from parents an amount of money that students in this very poor area were unable to pay. He said the school was physically punishing female students and expelled them when they failed to pay the tuition.
“The students’ parents asserted that the school had expelled their children after they failed to pay the tuition fees,” Serbazi said, adding that the Iranian websites did not reveal the identity of the girls and did not mention they were from Baluchestan “as part of a new policy to obscure the identity of Baluchestan and its people.”
The circulation of the video coincided with the International Day of The Girl.
Meanwhile, the Farda News published a letter written by a student called Ali telling the story of how students were flogged and being kicked out of school.
Serbazi said that although schools opened one month ago in Baluchestan, the majority of students have not yet received their books. He added that schools in the province also suffer from a lack of teachers and staff.
“All of this shows a shortage in the management of the area’s affairs,” he said.
Meanwhile, activists showed in the past few days pictures of geography and history school books where the historical name of Baluchestan had been removed from the maps to be replaced by the name Sistani, as a sign of sectarian discrimination against Baluchestan residents, who all follow the Sunni sect.
Last September, Iranian Vice-President for Women and Family Affairs Shahindokht Molaverdi said that 3.2 million students were deprived from attending schools, while girls living in poor areas constitute the majority of these students.