Teacher "proven innocent" of sexual charges

Kirkuk, April 2022: a classroom in a girls' school in the city of Kirkuk. Media of Kirkuk Education

By Karwan Salihi in Kirkuk

Investigations conducted by the local authorities has plead a Kirkuki teacher unguilty of sexual charges and union of teachers suggests the same staff for secondary schools.

The Kirkuk branch of the Kurdistan Teachers Union revealed the “innocence” of a teacher named Rizgar Othman of the charges brought against him, while they suggested reconsidering how to distribute the teaching staff so that male teachers are distributed to boys’ schools and female teachers to girls’ schools, a proposal met with harsh criticism.

Sarkawt Faeq, head of the Kirkuk branch of the Kurdistan Teachers Union, said in a statement on Wednesday, May 11, to (KirkukNow), "Two educational supervisors investigated the case of teacher Rizgar Othman, and it turned out that he was innocent, but we are waiting for the outcome of the investigations of the National Security Agency, as their report has not yet reached education department, so the issue has not been resolved yet.”

"We support the teachers and will never allow defamation," he added.

On May 8, a video clip of a conversation went viral on social media platforms between an account belonging to the teacher and a female student in the preparatory stage.

"My personal account was opened through another mobile, and through it I sent chat messages to a number of female students and other people,” Othman told KirkukNow earlier.

“I do not want to reveal more details, because some evidence was found, so I will leave the case is for investigation committees," he added.

According to (KirkukNow) information, the investigations of the National Security Agency into the case have not yet been completed, and the Kurdistan Teachers Union is awaiting their final report.

It is not the first time that tutorial staff in Kirkuk are targeted as harassment of teachers is about to turn into a phenomenon.

End of April, a police officer stormed a school in Hawija, southwest of Kirkuk with his guards demanding forcible participation of his failed son in the final ministerial exams.

On April 16th, a teacher of an elementary school of Kirkuk was attacked by relatives of a student as he mediated to put an end to a fighting between two students out of school while he was heading home.

 The case of teacher Rizgar Othman prompted us to re-submit this proposal


The proposal by the Teachers’ Union criticized

The head of the Kirkuk branch of the Kurdistan Teachers Union stressed that they had thought about reconsidering the distribution of teaching staff before that issue, so that male teachers would be distributed to boys’ schools, and females to girls’ schools.

"The case of teacher Rizgar Othman prompted us to re-submit this proposal and present it to the higher authorities. The idea is: to transfer all male teachers, especially young men, from girls' schools, especially the middle and preparatory stages, and replace them with female teachers, and vice versa," Faeq said.

But Siroud Ahmed, head of the Kirkuk branch of the Iraqi Al-Amal Association for Human Rights, thinks "it is a very bad idea. This is gender discrimination and will lead to discrimination."

“The solution is to educate teachers in advance about how to deal with the opposite sex, and how to tackle the problems they face,” Ahmed believes.

it is a very bad idea

However, some activists find the idea logical to control harassmenet.

“Although the proposal falls under the category of gender discrimination and I realize that I will be criticized if I say that it is a good proposal, but I think students communicate better with teachers of the same their gender,” Ahamng Anwar, women’s rights activist said without supporting her opinion with any evidence or research.

“The proposal of the Teachers’ Union is very regressive and not academic. It is necessary to have male teachers in girls’ schools and vice versa for boys’ schools, in order to learn how to deal with the opposite sex,” Ahmed said.

“This will make them avoid sexual harassment of a woman walking on the street."

There are over 1,300 schools and nurseries in Kirkuk for over 356,000 students, according to figures of the general commission of statistics in 2017-2018.

Located 238 kilometers north of Baghdad, the oil-rich city of Kirkuk is an ethnically mixed province for 1.7 million Kurds, Arabs, and Turkmen, Muslims, Christians and Kaka'is. It has long been at the center of disputes between Baghdad and the Erbil.

Currently, the Iraqi army, local and federal police, Special Forces along with Shiite paramilitary of Popular Mobilization Forces PMF, undertake the security of Kirkuk province and the disputed territories. 

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