Stories about sexual harassment

Understanding Pakistan’s sexual harassment law – Part II

This article is part of a series which will try to answer several questions surrounding the law on sexual harassment in Pakistan. The aim is to allow people to understand what the legal regime on this issue is, how it works, and what needs to change. Read part one here. ~ In my previous article in this series I wrote about how section 509 of the Pakistan Penal Code makes sexual harassment a criminal offence. However, as I argued, structural patriarchy in terms of the court system and the police pose obstacles for victims of sexual harassment from coming forward. To conclude ...

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Understanding Pakistan’s sexual harassment law – Part 1

This article is part of a series which will try to answer several questions surrounding the law on sexual harassment in Pakistan. The aim is to allow people to understand what the legal regime on this issue is, how it works, and what needs to change. ~ Meesha Shafi’s case has allowed sexual harassment to enter into the mainstream discourse in Pakistan. More recently, the traumatic experience recounted by Jami shows how harassment and sexual violence are acts of power that do not spare any gender. These victims, and the countless others who have come forward, have shown the problems of a legal system infused ...

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What psychological impact is sexual harassment having on Pakistan’s students?

In light of the recent case of harassment that has emerged at the University of  Balochistan, it is vital that we do not shy away from discussing the psychological impact such incidents have on students. As someone who has previously been associated with the academia, it is worrying to see the apathy with which such occurrences are treated and how often teachers accused of harassment are simply not held responsible for their actions. This lack of accountability was the very reason why I left a teaching position about half a decade ago. During my time as an instructor, an entire classroom of students ...

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Why are we silent about the sexual abuse at madrassas?

Of late, many individuals in Pakistan have finally begun to confront the long festering issue of sexual harassment, with several brave victims choosing to speak out about such issues despite the repercussions that often follow such admissions. Harassment and abuse, whether at the workplace, at a university or at ones own home desperately need to be tackled, yet, we as a nation are still largely reticent to openly acknowledge and discuss these matters. This is made all the more problematic when religion is thrown into the mix. For years, it has been silently acknowledged that many madrassas (religious seminaries) in ...

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Jami’s bravery has opened the doors for a much needed conversation about rape

Sexual harassment or abuse is a very difficult topic to discuss, especially in a country that still heavily indulges in victim-blaming. Despite the arrival of the MeToo movement in Pakistan, we are still having a tough time believing victims and holding perpetrators accountable, even in clear cut cases like the Mukhtaran Mai case. Things became more convoluted recently after Professor Afzal Mehmood, a lecturer at Government MAO College, committed suicide after he was wrongfully accused of sexual harassment. Those who oppose the MeToo movement used this incident to further their own agenda. As a result, many victims were afraid that the brief ...

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Will the victims of the Balochistan University scandal get justice?

A month ago, the Balochistan High Court directed the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) to look into the sexual harassment reports which had emerged from Balochistan University. According to FIA findings, both female and male students “were being blackmailed by some staff members through ‘objectionable’ videos of them, recorded through CCTV cameras hidden at various places on the campus including its washrooms.” These reports are bound to have repercussions not just for the educational institution under question but also on women’s education in Pakistan as a whole. Whether or not those responsible for blackmailing, harassment and an evident breach of privacy will be ...

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The wider implications of #MeToo and #TimesUp in Pakistan

“Cancelled” – that’s the impromptu public response whenever a known personality is accused of harassment. When Ukhano (Umar Khan) was exposed for alleged harassment recently by multiple women, he was instantly ‘cancelled’ by a significant percentage of people on social media, that is until Polish vlogger Eva Zu Beck shared her experience of working with him. Just because he hasn’t harassed you, doesn’t mean he’s not a harasser In an Instagram story, Beck shared how she went trekking with Khan for two months, during which he never made her feel uncomfortable or threatened at any point. It made sense for her to come out in support of her ...

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Who faced the music better: Meesha Shafi or Ali Zafar?

This week saw yet another development in Pakistan’s first #MeToo case: Ali Zafar spoke directly to the media for the first time since he filed a defamation case against Meesha Shafi for accusing him of sexual harassment. Zafar confidently told the media that Meesha’s case has been dismissed and he has been proven innocent by the court of law. This is blatantly untrue. In fact, it is a vicious way of misleading common people who are unaware of legal proceedings and only believe what they hear Zafar say on the news. What is actually happening? Firstly, according to Nighat Dad’s statement, Zafar has ...

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#IBelieveHer, and so should you

Throughout her advocacy for sexual assault survivors, Tarana Burke, the founder of the Me Too movement, has mentioned how action being taken in any particular case does not bring her personal joy. She repeatedly reminds us how this is not what the movement is about – it is about healing for the survivors. Burke is not delusional with the idea that sexual harassment will disappear from the world over the next decade, but she believes a shift in narratives – how we talk about it – is possible by then. If you’ve been sexually harassed or assaulted write ‘me too’ as ...

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Nusrat Rafi is to Bangladesh what Jyoti Singh was to India – a rude awakening

Nineteen-year-old Nusrat Jahan Rafi should be doing what any other average teenager does in their day: sitting their exams, stressing about their results, surrounding themselves with piles of books, and spending time with their friends. Instead, 19-year-old Nusrat is being mourned by her distraught family after she was doused in kerosene and set on fire. Her crime? She filed a police complaint against the headmaster of her madrassa who sexually harassed her. In Bangladesh, like many other conservative countries, sexual harassment is a taboo subject and women are reluctant to speak out against those who harass them, for fear of ...

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