KARACHI: The Institute of Business Administration (IBA), one of Pakistan’s leading universities, has apparently hushed up a harassment case involving a foreign faculty member.
A source at IBA familiar with the case told The Express Tribune that a case was prepared against Dr Tiago Ferreira Lopes, a Portugese national, by a senior administration staff member and Dr Lopes was later forced to resign instead of a proper inquiry being initiated against him as per government rules.
The IBA administration, according to the source in the administration, has documentary evidence including closed circuit television camera footage as well as Whatsapp messages which prove Dr Lopes harassed some students of IBA.
“Dr Lopes left in the middle of the spring semester this January,” recalled an IBA student, who was taking Dr Lopes course. As many as six students were doing research work under Dr Lopes. Later, IBA Associate Dean Dr Huma Baqai and some other teachers took over Dr Lopes’ courses. He taught political communication and comparative politics, according to the student.
“It was to our utter surprise that Dr Lopes left in the middle of a semester,” the student said, adding that they learnt later that he was involved in sexual harassment of his male students and that it was happening for a long time. “The teacher used to invite students to his place and offered them wine.”
Another student said that Dr Lopes would invite male students to his living quarters and demand sexual favours in exchange for better grades. “He would also host parties for students and encourage them to stay at his residence, in violation of IBA rules,” the student said.
This year, a formal complaint was registered by a group of students with Dr Baqai and she ordered action against Dr Lopes. The source in the administration said that Dr Lopes was quietly asked to leave the country after it was verified that he was continuously abusing his position to demand sexual favours from male students.
The human resource department allegedly cited visa problems as the reason for Dr Lopes leaving the country. The varsity’s HR department is notorious for their mistakes in processing documents.
IBA’s Centre for Excellence in Journalism former Project Director Christie Lauder, an American national, had to leave the university in 2017 after her visa case was mishandled by IBA.
The visa issue, according to sources in the administration, was a cover up for Dr Lopes’ involvement in the abuse and harassment of male students on campus.
When The Express Tribune contacted Dr Lopes through Facebook, he claimed to have left the varsity in the middle of the semester due to a family emergency. “Family comes first. One cannot plan family emergencies,” he said.
Dr Baqai accepted the sexual harassment allegations, but she said that no formal inquiry has been launched. She explained that Dr Lopes was asked to appear before the varsity’s harassment committee, which she was heading, after which he immediately resigned.
She confirmed that Dr Lopes’ visa was expiring, but it was not renewed as he had already resigned and left by then.
Advocate Nighat Dad, who is fighting musician and actor Meesha Shafi’s case against fellow artist Ali Zafar, said that there’s a clear difference between ‘suspension’ and ‘resignation.’
“Suspension has repercussions,” she said, adding that if the IBA had enough material against the professor, the anti-sexual harassment act and the sexual harassment in the workplace act could have been applied and Dr Lopes should have been suspended.