Sexual harassment

Published: May 22, 2011
Punjab registers most crime, Balochistan least.

Punjab registers most crime, Balochistan least.

The suspension of a teacher on charges of sexually harassing students at the University of Peshawar sets a laudable historical precedent and is an indicator that attitudes towards women’s rights in Pakistan may finally be shifting. Patriarchal traditions have meant that for too long the harassment of women has been institutionalised in educational organisations. The systemic harassment of young nursing students by doctors shows that there is still a long way to go. Last year, a 22-year-old nursing student at the Jinnah Post Graduate Medical Centre in Karachi was severely injured when she tried to escape from a doctor trying to rape her. In educational institutions, women are routinely harassed by teachers and students, and often coerced into trading sexual favours for grades.

According to research, sexual harassment in educational institutions ranges from touching and standing too close to sharing vulgar jokes and sexual invitations. The problem is so deep-rooted that sexually harassing women is considered a form of recreation rather than a crime, with the focus squarely on the victim’s conduct and appearance rather than on the aggressor. For the past couple of years, a local NGO has taken efforts to introduce and disseminate a taxonomy of aggressors to shift focus away from the victim.

The suspended lecturer from the University of Peshawar now faces a provincial inquiry, and more female students — who have, so far, feared speaking out about their ordeal — are expected to come forward with their complaints. Earlier this year, with the passage of the sexual harassment bill, Pakistan became the first South Asian country to declare sexual harassment a crime. Provincial governments were called upon to appoint ombudspersons to hear the complaints of women against harassment but, though all legal and institutional mechanisms are present, implementing the laws has remained a challenge. This case is a welcome indicator that the good work the NGOs and the media have been doing in this regard may finally be showing some results.

Published in The Express Tribune, May 23rd, 2011.

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Reader Comments (7)

  • Egregious
    May 22, 2011 - 11:03PM

    Good Article !
    one thing is missing , the harassment happening in media sectors and media institutions is not mentioned where owners and producers fulfill their lust on the young girls. I still remember one of my patient who remained actress in film industry but at this time she is octogenarian , she clearly told me if some one not fulfill the evil desires of the producer she can’t get work there and vice versa. now today every news/entertainment channel is full of such young beautiful girls who have not any skill but a puppet of their producer and director. What happens to them GOD knows better. But i think orientation of this society is same one request is report objectively not subjectively , a cornerstone of journalism but unfortunately missing these days.Recommend

  • yawer amin
    May 22, 2011 - 11:37PM

    strictly condemned by me !Recommend

  • qaisera
    May 23, 2011 - 11:23AM

    professor should be taken to task Recommend

  • student of uop
    May 23, 2011 - 12:53PM

    i dont believe a lecturer alone can do all this..i am sure there are senior faculty members involved and there should be a thorough inquiry into the matters of selection in university of peshawar and i m sure many big names will come out… suspending a lecturer is just not enough… should start from directors/chairmen of departments, deans, and upto VC…Recommend

  • Deen Sheikh
    May 23, 2011 - 1:01PM

    male students can also get sexually harassed by male and female teachers, that possibility should not be denied, no one talks about it or thinks about young men getting sexually harassed doesn’t mean, it doesn’t exist, female teachers can also show sexual predator like behavior, while male teachers can also exhibit that sodomy intentions. Recommend

  • SharifL
    May 23, 2011 - 5:56PM

    I do not live in pakistan anymore, but if what you say is true then things need to improve. However, I think the society also needs to change and we must accept equal right of women. Here in west, if you give a compliment to a woman, she takes it as a compliment, and thanks you for saying it. Likewise, if you tell a friend that she has a pretty wife, he is happy. Once i made a ‘mistake’ and told a Pakistani that his wife is pretty and he did not sit well. He thought I am a trying to flirt and I am a tharkee, which is so very wrong.
    Right now i read a lot about Strass-Kahn and the accusation that he tried to rape a woman in NY. That is a real crime, but a little flirt is good and I am sure women like it. Getting on somebody’s nerve by chasing a woman is a nuisance, but not to the extent of calling it a crime. So boys, smile once or twice and get away if you do not get a positive response. It is not a crime to like somebody or appreciate beauty. As Keats said: Truth is beauty and beauty is truth, or something like that. Recommend

  • rabia
    Jun 20, 2011 - 12:57PM

    i strictly condemn it..we need practical implementation not just words…….here in dera ismail khan already women are empowered and also facing such type of situations every where in universities,job can the society can develop?how???if educational institutes are involve in such type of crimes etc.i am not a victim but suffered such type of situation by our teachers vulgar talk about many issues.please i request to teachers etc that don not spoil your image,if you people can not stop your such activities then please leave this noble profession.Recommend

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