RFE/RL – Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (Author)
Authorities in Uzbekistan say they've launched a criminal investigation over disturbing footage of a nursery-school employee beating and berating children and threatening them with a knife.
And at least one report suggested the premises were being used as a "brothel" by night.
State media in the tightly controlled Central Asian republic say the closed-circuit TV footage comes from preschool N10 in the Denov district of the southern Surkhandaryo Province.
The alleged abuse video, dated November 18, 2016, shows the woman punishing children for allegedly failing to memorize poetry.
She also accuses them of tattling to their parents about what happens at N10.
"I didn't tell them anything, Auntie," a sobbing child pleads.
But the woman continues threatening the child with the knife while two nearby teachers laugh and push other children toward the woman.
Surkhondaryo regional TV also showed CCTV images of a man and woman kissing and cuddling and claimed the premises were being used as a "brothel" after hours.
Uzbek media reports said two male guards of the kindergarten rented out children's rooms to couples who needed a room for a few hours. Some of the female employees at the daycare center served as "prostitutes," the reports added.
Surkhondaryo TV showed two men admitting to "providing rooms" for couples who "needed a place."
'Arrest Them All'
N10 wasn't the only preschool in Surkhondaryo where child abuse and misuse of the premises were taking place, state media claimed. Similar incidents were said to have been recorded by surveillance cameras at two other nursery schools in the province.
In television interviews, the directors of the facilities claimed to have no knowledge of the goings-on and blamed employees for the activities.
The footage sparked outrage among Uzbeks, many of whom are urging authorities to install security cameras at preschools across the country.
There have also been calls for tough punishment of everyone involved in the activities at all three Surkhondaryo preschools.
"Arrest them all," Facebook user Jahon Ahunov said.
"Everyone, from the nursery-school headmistresses to guards, should be punished... Also district officials and higher authorities are responsible for this... Were the local police aware of this?" asked Nilufar Mizamova.
"These teachers and their assistants need a serious lesson themselves," said Ibrohim Mominjanov.
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