The clean shaven, liberal Taliban

Published: April 30, 2011

Female student abuse by teachers is not a new phenomenon.

A few days ago, the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa government formed a committee, headed by a female legislator, to probe the matter of university teachers “harassing and physically abusing” their female students.

Abuse of female students by teachers is not a new phenomenon. At least those who study or teach on campuses know this fact. It is somewhat an open secret. However, the scale to which this crime has grown , no longer allows it to remain hushed up.

The issue has, in fact, become the talk of the town in Peshawar.

While there is no official confirmation as to who was involved the campus is buzzing with rumours that at least eight teachers and some officials in the administration of the University of Peshawar (UoP) are under scrutiny.

Female members of the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Assembly claim that university officials exploited their positions and used various tactics to trap female students into fulfilling their desires. Examples of such tactics include offering foreign scholarships to students, assuring them high GPAs, and even offering them lecturer positions in colleges.

Interestingly, all of this is taking place in the so called conservative semi-tribal society of Peshawar. Only residents can understand the damage this issue has caused to the lives of female students here.

The safest place in the world

The University of Peshawar offers a friendly environment where female students have the liberty to express themselves. In fact, it wouldn’t be wrong to say that a student has more freedom at Peshawar University than at other public universities like say, University of Karachi, where some female students are not even allowed to celebrate their birthdays and couples cannot sit together around the campus without the fear of being attacked by member of a religious party.

Most students, especially females, who study at Peshawar University, come from the conservative towns like Mardan, Karak, Nowshera and Chitral, where they are generally bound to observe purdah.

However, once these girls enter the university campus, they experience an environment free from all such restrictions. They are free to wear whatever they want and interestingly even their parents, who would not let them go anywhere without a veil otherwise, choose to not enforce such requirements. This is because they feel their daughters are safe within the boundaries of the educational institute. Parents of the majority of the students at UoP are uneducated and look at the university as a sacred place where they think the teachers would take better care of their children.

This is the why most parents are having a tough time believing that university teachers could be involved in such heinous crimes. My parents still don’t believe it.

But, after these revelations, parents will think twice before sending their kids to the campus. And, even if they do send their daughters and sisters, they probably will not allow them to express themselves in the manner they could before. They will look at every teacher with suspicion.

The irony of the liberals

The majority of the teachers under scrutiny are either feminists or those who are vocal about women’s rights in seminars. None of them, at least as far as I know, belong to the Jamaat-i-Islami or for that matter any other religious group.

While at Karachi University, students of Islami Jamiat-i-Tulaba are involved in curtailing the freedom of women, at University of Peshawar, a group of “liberal teachers” are doing the same.

We regularly condemn the Taliban and other religious parties but we do not realise the threat from the Taliban within our ranks who are causing much more damage.

We must realise that while we continue to fight against militant groups, we also have to make sure we kick out certain black sheep from within our society.

Fawad Shah

Fawad Shah

Peshawar based reporter for Mashaal Service of Radio Free Europe.

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • http://na deep

    Didnt follow this article – you said – “The majority of the teachers under scrutiny are either feminists or those who are vocal about women’s rights in seminars.”

    What are these teachers under scrutiny for? Recommend

  • Muhammad Yasin

    You have picked a very valid issue in nice way.

    But why are you abusing the word ‘Taliban’. DO you take it for Terrorist or rapist?? Recommend

  • Ahsan

    The Tehreek-e-Taliban have already demeaned the word ‘Taliban’ while the native afghan talibans had brought a lot of good to the company which was never given space in the media…better use only the term ‘so-called-liberal’ coz many of them are not as cultured as u might think…

    obviously under scrutiny due to above mentioned harassment cases…Recommend

  • Ahmad

    First part is ok and valid. While title is stupid and last part is try hard to associate with rest of news hence making it super-stupid-ending. Try to be to-the-point and avoid following western media regulations to associate everything with talibans or Islam so you get more clicks.Recommend

  • Zulfiqar Ali

    misleading article!rapists and harassers have nothing to do with political or religious ideologies, it is a personal vice of an individual not a school of thought. that said these teachers Must be duly tried and if guilty severly punished for defaming the noblest profession Recommend

  • Pro Pakistani

    Totally fake research made to write this articleRecommend

  • MN

    Absolutely spot on, but why are you citing Taliban here? What was similarity that you spotted?Recommend

  • Hammad

    Mullas are raping kids in madrassas and Professor are trying to do the same with the mature students. Mullas are still more dangerous than university professors.Recommend

  • Ali

    So what the writer is saying that taliban/JI (i consider them two sides of the same coin) can stop all the harassment with force and clean shaven liberals are perverts? What kind of lame argument is this? Recommend

  • Qazi Zaid Hamid Hussain

    I am shocked to read about harassment of female students from the hands of male teachers.
    This news shows a measure mentality shift in Khyber Pukhunkhwa always famous for same sex harassment.
    This is all because of War against terrorism that is changing the mindset of Khyber Pukhtunkhwa people. All these male teachers are Black Water agents and run by CIA who are using these people against our women in the presence of our male children widely available for molestation and harassment.Recommend

  • Alchemy

    This issue has nothing to do with the Taliban or Liberalism. I suspect the writer doesn’t understand the meaning of either terms. Not everyone in KP or Peshawer is Taliban and not everyone in Karachi is Liberal.Recommend

  • Meerza R Khan

    Dear all, Let us all stop maligning the respected Pukhtoon Faculty of Peshawar University,
    I still recall Jamat e Islami Hooligans leaving scores of footwear while running for their lives from Area Study Center in April,1987.
    Some Ms. Durrani a hostelite from Islamabad had shamefully accused our reverend Doctor Bangash with sexual harassment and what not, seeking the help of the bearded brethren, the so called Mujahideens of the Campus.
    As a consequence of the DSF action, the University was shut down for 8 months.
    The unfortunate eventuality led to the forming of Campus Police Force in Peshawar University
    This time again there must be a hidden agenda to the endeavour.
    Let us all display sense of respect towards the honourable Teaching Staff.
    Yes, the individual cases can be individually & selectively handled by the empowered Board of Governors.
    No need to Inflate.
    Best regards,
    Meerza R KhanRecommend

  • Sana

    this is goin to harm the future of so many women who want to get higher education..but after this alot of parents will not allow their girls to go the University at all…!!
    These sickos should b thrashed in front of the whole world.!!! Recommend

  • Fahad Raza

    Liberal didn’t like it. What a double standard on their part. Good job by the write, its logical as its the university we are talkin about, “mullahs” don’t teach their do they its the university professors who have PHds, Masters aren’t they and ironically women right activist, NGOs don’t wanna talk about it. American don’t wanna give money to them for this cause I presume. But some here wanna divert too Mullah’s who are doing equally wrong to children.

    And aren’t liberals perverted ? Sure they are that’s why don’t like women covering up ….. they see as oppression to women if someone say them to cover up with dignity. I have yet meet a conservative who say “don’t cover, what are you hiding your best parts for ?

    One general question is women rights movement about giving respect and treat women with honor or exposing them to prying eyes? I think its definitely NOT about exposing them to any harm as a result of prying eyes. Recommend

  • TightDhoti

    @Qazi: All these male teachers are Black Water agents and run by CIA who are using these people against our women in the presence of our male children widely available for molestation and harassment. What are you smoking? The fine cigar of denial?Recommend

  • malik

    There is a reason why our Holy Book insists on women to cover themselves from head to toe. It is often said, if you show your face and cover rest of the body, ‘It is similar to closing smaller windows and opening the main door’.

    If the girls had worn the veil, they would not have given temptation to the teachers. And this would not have happened.

    Simple !!Recommend

  • Tanzeel

    I am also shocked to see the Peshawar university male teachers taking interests in female students. In Khyberpakhtoonkhwa and tribal areas female students were secured not because they had liberty to freedom of expression or the safe environment but they were well aware of the opposite gender’s sexual inclination which was certainly not laid in females. I believe Urbanization and war against Taliban is ruining the culture of that particular area.Recommend

  • faraz

    What has this to do with liberalism or conservativism. Harrasment is common place in madrassas, but it has nothing to with religion. Similarly, harrasment in University professors has nothing do with political leanings of the individual involved. Recommend

  • http://London Hasan
  • TightDhoti

    @Malik: Yes blame the girls. All the pious religious men have no self control or respect for their fellow Muslims, Pakistanis, humans! Even so, this is a gross violation of the trust between a teacher and a student. Pathetic that you come and offer excuses. Recommend

  • Maulana Diesel

    @Tanzeel: speaking from experience?Recommend

  • Saad

    I agree with the comments of Alchemy . I dont understand the logic by which the writer has related Taliban with his article. Nevertheless , he has highlighted an important issue. There should be some strict laws enforced to eradicate this issue. Recommend

  • temizlik

    I think government should stabilize the country, at least for students.Recommend

  • Sara

    Why the women only? Can’t men learn to exercise self control?Recommend

  • parvez

    You have just about managed to get your point across but not very well. I got a bit confused reading this. You should have worked at this a bit more as it is a relevant and important topic.Recommend

  • Majid Urrehman

    Nice article!Recommend

  • Fawad

    Well, I have compared these teachers with Taliban because Taliban are blowing up girls schools and colleges in Khyber Pakhtoonkhwa and tribal areas and these teachers [this issue] have helped their cause.
    Taliban had failed to convince masses that sending their children to schools was not good. Don’t you think after this controversy parents will think 100 times before sending their girls to universities and schools? Those who ask why I compared Taliban with these teachers are unaware of the ground realities in KPK…Recommend

  • Hira Shah

    @TightDhoti: i couldn’t agree with you more!Recommend

  • Hira Shah

    @malik:oh please!!! you can’t seriously be saying this? OK let me get through with this, what I understand from your comment is:
    1. Men are animals and they can’t control their sexual wants. so what if a foreigner walks past you and she is not in pardah? you all pervert men will jump onto her and rape her and then tell God that we are sorry but her meat was visible and couldn’t control ourselves.
    2. The ayah that you are pointing towards first orders the men to lower their gazes then orders women to covers themselves. So heal thyself!!
    3. Try covering your face for a week and then tell me how you feel! what about women who feel suffocated in the niqab? I do. So you will rape me because I don’t cover my face? Have you heard about ‘nafs’ and controlling it?Recommend

  • inam

    Well harnessing female students are not a new story in our country, But not only teachers are responsible for this. Because Female student always try to exploit grading by their feminist ways.Recommend

  • Usman

    @malik: Are you out of your mind? This is typical fundamentalist mentality. It is allowed in Islam to show face, hands and feet. People like you are confused and speak the agenda of the so-called mullahs. People like you have ruined the country already.

    How the hell can you justify the actions of a rapist???? You are a shame to whole humankind.Recommend

  • Usman

    @Hira Shah: Exactly! You are bang on target. People like malik have a really distorted sense of what is right and what is wrong. I wish I could use expletives here for these kinds of people but unfortunately, ET does not allow me to.Recommend

  • malik

    @Hira Shah:
    You say: ‘Men are animals and they can’t control their sexual wants. so what if a foreigner walks past you and she is not in pardah? you all pervert men will jump onto her and rape her and then tell God that we are sorry but her meat was visible and couldn’t control ourselves.’

    Apparently, the same thing happened to Ms Lara Logan, reporter of CBS News when she went to cover the Egyptian Revolution.

    She was in Tahrir Square amidst a big big crowd of people, all shouting for democracy. The crowd noticed that ‘she was a foreigner, single white female and without a veil.”

    In the disturbance that ensued, Lara Logan got separated from her crew, and the democracy-loving supporters in the crowd took her away.

    She was surrounded and suffered a brutal and sustained sexual assault and beating before being saved by a group of women and an estimated 20 Egyptian soldiers.The assault lasted for up to half an hour. She was so traumatised that she was put in the first flight to US next day, and had to be hospitalised there.

    All the Egyptians (both pro and anti- Mubarak) agree on one thing; If she had worn a veil, this would not have happened to her.

    Now, will you please read your comments again?Recommend

  • Gorgh

    As far as attraction between man and womens are concern, its a natural phenonmenon whether being one as student and other as teacher. Women has always been and is centre of attraction / luring for men. The instructions / rules set forth for the both for respect / dignity by the Messenger of God, is off prime importance. Observance of the Instructions will keep both seperated / respectable, for each other unless it is violated. A good women /girl acquinted with the Islamic instructions and familiar with prestige /honour of family, attached to her can never go stray/nor can be disgraced by any men or gp or gang in any case, untill / unless she herself has a mutual agreement/ sense of biasedness towards sex or galamarous understanding.same applies good /mature men.
    The writter do high lighted the tragedy taken place in UoP, however he has not alloborated the account of attitudes leading to the incident / background of the story for better understanding and logical conclusion. To blame / allegate any of the sides without due consideration /cognizance of the attitude/behaviour of the individuals involved, tantamounts to injustice and further aggrevating the respectable relation between students and faculty members of the university, moreso clear damage to the confidence of the Parents on the school / university of instruction in Pakistan. Recommend

  • thomas vesely

    the sexual apartheid must be removed.this will help to attain a state of maturity..
    as for sexual predators,enforce the laws.Recommend

  • Faris

    good effort but a bit confused. We need to understand very clearly that religious extremism is just one of the problems we are facing. Corruption (including economic and moral) is a significant problem faced by all and the perperators of this crime could be the religious sort as well as the secular sort. Unfortunately the problem is that we are forced to choose between the devil and the deep sea – religious extremism is at one end while the so-called liberal/ secular credential holding criminals are at one end.Recommend

  • Fruit Forbidden

    This is relevant to all female students regardless of the geographical location of the institute. Teachers making passes at them and even threatening them with dire consequences if they don’t cooperate. Girls must devise ways to put an end to this malice! Simplest is reporting it to higher authorities boldly! Recommend

  • Nobody

    You further proved what Hira was saying. She asked if you came across a woman not wearing purdah would you rape her and later say, I just couldn’t control myself? Disgusting. It’s men like you who try to find justifications for disgusting animalistic behavior. There is no justification for rape, it doesn’t matter what a person is wearing. If you don’t like what a woman’s wearing, don’t look; someone as “well informed” as you should know Islam also tells people to lower their gaze. Islam tells people to be modest yes, but I’ve never come across anything stating if a woman isn’t dressed modestly, she’s fair game. Have you? Recommend