In a shocking case, a four-year-old Indian girl was allegedly gangraped by three men, including her school bus driver and conductor, in Dubai.
The child studying at the Modern High School was allegedly raped on November 11 when the institution celebrated the Children's Day, Gulf News reported, adding that the parents notified police on January 9.
The bus driver was employed with the school and its transportation service provider for 14 years, it said. The conductor of the bus, among the three suspects arrested, was with the school for seven years.
"My daughter is scared and can't sleep. She is scared at night and doesn't want to sleep. Our 4-year-old daughter never told us what had happened. The stains on her clothes made me suspicious," the mother of the girl said.
"She only confided in us after we spoke to her based on medical reports that confirmed that she was raped by three men," the Indian homemaker, who hails from Delhi, said.
The girl has not gone back to school since the alleged incident.
"Our family was shattered beyond words when we found out," the woman said.
"She usually comes back by 10.15am. I called the conductor to find out what time the bus would reach near our home in Karama and he replied that they would be on time."
A few minutes later, the conductor called back to say that she need not come to the stop and that he would call her once they arrived. "But I felt uneasy and went down anyway and informed the conductor that I was already there," she recounted.
"By 11 am the bus arrived. I asked my daughter how the day went, but she did not mention anything."
While the mother changed the child's clothes, she saw they were stained and asked her about it.
"She just replied -- nothing. I put away the clothes in the laundry bin. Thankfully, I didn't get the time to wash them for the next 4 to 5 days," she said, adding that she cannot imagine the situation if she washed the clothes and the incident had gone unnoticed.
The child's father told Gulf News: "We have gone through hell. We have met people who wanted to brush this under the carpet and those who genuinely wanted to help us."
The second sign for the mother was when the child passed urine in her clothes. "We were visiting a family friend when it happened. My daughter asked my friend not to tell me about it and looked scared," the mother said.
"It seemed strange to me, since we hardly scold her."
Two days later, when the family went to a park, the child dropped a mobile phone and looked petrified when she picked it up. "The culprit must have threatened the child is what I gather now," the mother said.
Although the mother raised her concerns with the father, he dismissed it. "At that point, I felt no one on earth could do something so heinous to an innocent child," the father said.
But the mother made it a point to visit a gynaecologist the next day with the soiled clothes.
"The doctor confirmed my worst fear. It was semen on her dress," the mother said.
The same night the family flew to India to seek medical attention. The parents reported the matter to police only on January 11, two months later, the paper said.
"We should have gone to the police earlier. But at the time my priority was to protect my child. I did not want her to go through the trauma again.
"I have got tremendous support from the police. Today I feel differently -- I should have gone to them earlier," the father said.
The father said that he does not blame GEMS, which runs the school, or the transportation company for the incident.
"We approached GEMS on January 5 and they encouraged us to report the matter to police. We blame the culprits only. We want justice for our daughter," the father said.