Indian schoolgirls beaten up after confronting boys over lewd drawings

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Thirty Indian girls are recovering at a government-run boarding school in the country's eastern Bihar state after they were beat up by a group of teenage boys — and their parents — on Sunday.

(CNN) — Thirty Indian girls are recovering at a government-run boarding school in the country's eastern Bihar state after they were beat up by a group of teenage boys — and their parents — on Sunday.

The girls, aged 11 to 16, were playing inside the school compound in Bihar's Supaul district when the group of boys showed up and wrote "lewd messages" on the school's wall.

The girls first addressed the boys' messages in a "heated argument" that eventually turned physical, according to Mrityunjay Kumar Chaudhary, Superintendent of Police. The girls initially "overpowered" the boys, so they ran away, only to return with adult reinforcements.

"(They) came back with their parents. The boys with their parents barged into the school, beat up the girls," Chaudhary said.

Around half of the girls were taken to a nearby health center where they were treated for their injuries. None of the girls sustained serious injuries.

Seven boys and three women have been arrested.

Baidyanath Yadav, Supaul's district chief, told CNN that additional security measures had been rolled out since the incident and that female counselors had been deployed to the school.

"We have deployed police officials and some women counselors to the school. We have arranged movies, extra sport equipment to entertain the girls. We have also raised the level of the school wall and added extra locks to the gate," he said.

A 2018 Thomson Reuters Foundation report found that India is the most dangerous country in the world to be a woman because of the high risk of sexual violence and slave labor.

And concerns over gender-based violence in Bihar have reached a fever pitch.

A report submitted to the Bihar government in April revealed that more than 30 girls were sexually assaulted and tortured at a girls' home in Muzaffarpur, a city just 70 kilometers (43 miles) from the state's capital, Patna. There, children said they were subjected to sexual violence by male staff on a regular basis.

"Male staff reportedly entered their rooms at odd hours and hit them on their privates," the report said.

"The girls had no access to any sort of open space and were literally locked up in their wards except for when they went to the dining hall to take their meals. Vocational trainings and recreation were unheard of," reads the report.

Nationwide, India is still grappling with endemic sexual violence.

A string of attacks on girls in the last year have sparked outrage in India, with the September rape of a 7-year-old girl conjuring memories of the rape and murder of a female college student in Delhi in 2012.

In the months following the 2012 case, the central government moved to pass legislation increasing penalties for sexual assault, rape, and sexual abuse, including extending prison sentences and introducing the death penalty.

But despite the introduction of stricter laws, around 100 sexual assaults are reported to police in the country every day, according to the National Crime Records Bureau, with nearly 39,000 alleged attacks reported in 2016, an increase of 12% from the previous year.

This story was first published on CNN.com "Indian schoolgirls beaten up after confronting boys over lewd drawings"