Sexual harassment case: Instead of evidence, questions of character at the fore

Investigation takes new turn as accused changes statement.


Riazul Haq May 08, 2013
According to sources close to the investigation, the professor has now blamed the victim by claiming “her character is doubtful and she has a bad reputation in the department”. PHOTO: FILE

ISLAMABAD:


The Quaid-e-Azam University sexual harassment case has taken a new turn as the committee has yet to reach any conclusion due to conflicting statements provided by the accused professor.


According to sources close to the investigation, the professor has now blamed the victim by claiming “her character is doubtful and she has a bad reputation in the department”.

A student from the anthropology department had accused a professor who is also her supervisor of sexual harassment. Following the submission of an application to the head of the department, a committee was formed to look into the issue.

Initially, the accused teacher claimed that certain professors from the department were jealous of his qualifications and wanted him to be sidelined.

Another source said that as part of the investigation, some students have recorded their statements with the committee, but the teacher has “forced them to record testimony in his favour”.

According to one student, the accused teacher told him “to share information in his favour and in reward he will grant approval for research and thesis work”.

The investigation team has yet to get the records of the professor landline phone, which some sources said, could be helpful in clearing up whether or not the accusation is authentic.

While talking to The Express Tribune, the accused professor refuted the claims and said the issue was a campaign to defame him. “The investigations are underway and I cannot comment on it any further, but this is nothing but a nasty plan to kick me out of the university,” he remarked.

Some students from the department also voiced support for the teacher. “We have been studying under his supervision and we did not find anything to suggest he would do this during the course of our studies,” remarked Nadeem Takar, an MPhil student.

QAU has been faced with a number of sexual harassment cases over the last few years. The administration had removed two professors in July 2011, and the examinations controller was also sent packing for attempted sexual harassment, while an information technology professor was forcibly retired on the same charge.

Published in The Express Tribune, May 8th, 2013.

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