International support for Otago Girls’ High attack victim

More than 75,000 people, including global celebrities, have signed an online petition in support of the Otago Girls’ High School pupil subjected to a horrific, alleged racist attack last week.

The petition, ‘Justice for Huda’ had surpassed its 75,000 signature target by Tuesday afternoon, a week after a Muslim student was hospitalised with concussion after having had her hijab ripped off, and was beaten and filmed by fellow schoolgirls. Signatories on the petition pledging support for the 17 year-old student and demanding OGHS speak publically in support of the victim, condemn the attack and apologise for failing the victim, include international model and influencer, Bella Hadid and Sonny Bill Williams. 

Two students have reportedly been expelled following last Wednesday’s assault, which is part of an ongoing Police investigation. Chair of the school board, Lyn Hurring, issued a statement via the school’s website, dubbed ‘OGHS School Board Message of Support’, addressing its school community.

In it, there is no admission of any failings or direct mention of the victim, however, it says, “As a School Board, we take very seriously our responsibility for the emotional and physical safety of our students, staff and wider community.” The Board explains that it has ‘liaised very closely with external agencies, including the Ministry of Education and the Police to ensure that this was handled appropriately for all concerned’.

Following ‘an investigation phase’, it shared that the School Board had ‘completed its formal disciplinary processes around this matter’ and they ‘sincerely thank Bridget [Principal Bridget Davidson] for the significant work she has done alongside this process to assist us with making a fair and robust decision’.

National media this week reported that two of the three girls involved in carrying out the attack had been expelled from the Dunedin school. The official Board statement said, “While we cannot share the outcomes, we can confirm that we followed all legislation and guidance in reaching a decision and that we are confident that strong and appropriate steps were taken and support has been put in place for those impacted.

“We all need to do our part to protect young people, whether it is to heal or learn from their mistakes, so we ask everyone to respect the confidentiality of the process and the privacy of those involved.”

The Board Chair acknowledged it had been ‘a very sad and upsetting way to start the school year’, reiterating a message shared in the school newsletter and a Principal’s email that, ‘pastoral care and counselling support are available to help anyone affected by this’. 

All Black Sonny Bill Williams took to social media this week, sharing a recording of him condeming the racist attack, as well as signing the petition set up by a pair of fellow OGHS students in support of the victim. Meanwhile, well-known model and influencer, Bella Hadid also ledged her support online. 

‘Justice for Huda’ petition graphic.
The online OGHS School Board Message of Support concluded, “An incident like this makes everyone reflect deeply on what occurred and what can be done to address hurt and concern in order to move positively forward.
We think it is helpful to also reflect on the long and proud history that Otago Girls’ High School has of providing high quality educational opportunities for all. Our staff, and members of the wider school community, have been working tirelessly for many years to ensure that all students feel accepted, respected and included in the Otago Girls’ High School community, no matter their cultural, ethnic or religious background. Our Principal, Bridget Davidson, has been a major driving force for inclusive education.”


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