Rampant sexual harassment: Toothless laws fail to protect women
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2016-05-19 07:14:03

Rampant sexual harassment: Toothless laws fail to protect women

Karachi

 

At best, the University of Karachi (KU) is ill-equipped to deal with cases of sexual harassment; at worst, the country’s largest varsity is sweeping under the carpet a growing endemic on campus grounds. An assistant professor at the University of Karachi (KU), however, has refused to stay silent about her harrowing experience. Navin G Haider has been taunted, criticised and even threatened after she stepped forward to report a well-known Urdu scholar for sexually harassing her inside university premises. Although her courage came at a price, it gave many students the courage to lodge similar complaints of sexual harassment against the same scholar. Women in Pakistan may have been entering educational institutions in increasing numbers in recent years, but this by no means implies that their journey in these institutions is trouble-free. While there is legislation in place that protects females against sexual harassment at the workplace, it is imperfectly implemented often due to the reluctance of top managements at organisations to take the perpetrator to task. In addition, this legislation does not protect the rights of female students who may have been sexually harassed in educational institutions. Therefore, currently the onus to deal fairly with cases of sexual harassment of students falls on administrations of institutions. Institutions, the world over, operate with handbooks that clearly outline guidelines and legal implications for teachers and students who flout them. This seems to be missing at our institutions. Instead, the natural response in this particular case has apparently been to protect the perpetrator. Educational institutions in our country, in fact all workplaces, must have clear guidelines on how to deal with sexual harassment cases that encourage victims to come forward and feel safe when they report such cases. What is also needed is legislation to protect students who are sexually harassed and the implementation of all laws on sexual harassment. It goes without saying that it is the right of all students and teachers to be able to pursue their goals in a harassment-free environment. We need to make sure this happens.

 

pk.shafaqna.com

 

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