Recent allegations of sexual harassment that have emerged in schools and universities in Lahore, should not surprise anyone. We’ve been here before and we will be back again. Without institutions taking responsibility for the development of strategies and training in the field, and without wider public thinking about our unwillingness to talk about oppression, we’re bound to repeat these patterns.
At the end of 2019, students in University of Balochistan spoke about being recorded by surveillance cameras in private spaces on campus and is being blackmailed over it. The FIA conducted an investigation, and although it seems nobody was charged, the Vice-Chancellor of the University, resigned. However, he was quickly hired by a private University in Lahore.
Just this month, students at lums in Lahore bravely spoke out against the conduct of men on campus that they were incapable of making before the Committee the University’s sexual harassment.
What is it about sexual harassment that refuses to leave? It can be found in educational institutions, public and private, in every part of the country. It POPs up in workplaces and sports clubs. Sexual harassment is everywhere. The mind panics, and, one is inclined to gender segregation and surveillance throughout the campus as a solution to this threat. But these solutions are already part of University life and didn’t alleviate the problem.
Education Minister Punjab, Dr. Murad RAAS was among many to suggest that men were not allowed to teach in the women’s campuses as a solution to this problem. But this is hardly a solution. Essentially, this means that men cannot control themselves around women and girls, the consequences we should all find offensive. It is also the perfect solution for a world where everything is mixed the sexes in offices and public spaces. The proposal also ignores the fact that sexual harassment and sexual violence are widespread in educational institutions for boys. Approach that teaches all of us to respect differences and personal space will serve us better.
Another knee to the decision of the school and with parents ‘ increased use of cameras on campus. This is an expensive solution which may not be reproduced in public schools. Cameras are very sensitive to copying or leakage, as it was in the safe of the power of the Lahore city in the past. Our private lives and property of our own body is very important for us and we need to be careful about the normalization of the idea to sacrifice it for the illusion of safety.
Some suggestions for clothing on the campuses of universities and schools have been put forward. Proponents of this approach forget that dress code and the distancing between the sexes is already assigned to public and private universities. No coating protects women who are victims of attacks and harassment in public places, as women are acutely aware.
All of these solutions are short-sighted and wrong. Their supporters forget that what gives rise to sexual harassment of the authorities, supported by the culture of silence. Decades of feminist research has established that sexual harassment counts on the victim cornered in line, because the power of the tyrants hold over her—he’s her teacher, evaluation of her studies, Professor, who directs her thesis, Department head, signed by its academic documents, campus security Director, which nobody can question and who has access to the security cameras. At least the culprit is a man whose word is always believed over that of a woman. Women’s authority depends on its moral character, being absolutely without a doubt.
This difference in power is compounded by the culture of silence. Our ideas of shame is hard to talk about anything of a sexual nature, including unwanted sexual advances. All teachers understand that the word “sex” even in the framework of sexual harassment attention is not welcome in Pakistan society. School girls, women in the University and for working women always prefer to combat sexual harassment on their own, or just ignore it, not their parents know about it. They fear that they will be blamed for inviting such behavior, or at least to have their mobility curtailed under the pretext of greater security for them. Our cultural silence around private Affairs are unable to distinguish between right and compulsion to actions of sexual interaction.
To address this power differential, we must introduce a curriculum in schools, educates children about overcoming this shame how to identify and combat sexual harassment. We need reliable, well-trained and independent sexual harassment committees in schools and universities, efforts which are already underway. Companies must ensure that their committees are transparent and independent, and not only occupied the administration that students cannot be trusted.
Students, in turn, should have the opportunity to speak. Training on harassment is one way to do it. But they do not reach the students feel safe in numbers, the ability to appeal against a popular teacher. This comes with a tough and independent student government and student associations in the University. The activity of online censorship of students as some schools have already begun to do, has the opposite effect and will only silence reporting of sexual harassment further.
As a society, we need to have an honest conversation about how we perpetuate this culture of silence. The taboo on sex is necessary to overcome the idea of consent and ownership, control and protection of the body must be strengthened. In the post-Kasur, Pakistan, we were exhausted from sexual violence, despite increased penalties and the introduction of new laws. Now, it is our duty to refer to social rather than purely legal solutions, and we are obliged again to repeat these errors.
The writer is a teaching fellow Sheikh Ahmad Hassan School of law, lums.