Sexual harassment is a pervasive issue in educational institutes in Pakistan, affecting both students and staff. From unwanted physical contact to verbal abuse, sexual harassment can take many forms and can have severe psychological and emotional consequences for those who experience it. Unfortunately, despite efforts to raise awareness and implement preventative measures, instances of sexual harassment continue to occur in schools, colleges, and universities across the country.
In Pakistan, schools, colleges, and universities are considered to be safe spaces for learning and personal growth. However, for many students, these institutions can become a source of fear, anxiety, and trauma due to sexual harassment. According to a study conducted by the Aurat Foundation, a non-governmental organization working for women’s rights, 98% of female university students in Pakistan have experienced some form of sexual harassment. Furthermore, the study found that 60% of female students reported experiencing sexual harassment in the form of physical contact, while 40% reported experiencing verbal abuse.
The problem is not limited to female students, however. Male students also experience sexual harassment, although to a lesser extent. According to the same study, 20% of male university students in Pakistan reported experiencing sexual harassment. Additionally, a significant proportion of staff in educational institutes also reported experiencing sexual harassment at the workplace.
One of the major reasons why sexual harassment persists in educational institutes in Pakistan is a lack of awareness and understanding of the issue. Many students and staff may not even recognize that they have been subjected to sexual harassment, or may not know how to report it. Furthermore, there is a lack of clear policies and procedures for dealing with sexual harassment in educational institutes. This creates confusion and uncertainty, and can make it difficult for victims to seek help.
Another major issue is the lack of accountability for those who commit sexual harassment. In many cases, perpetrators are not held accountable for their actions, and may even be allowed to continue working or studying in the same institution as their victims. This sends a message that sexual harassment is not taken seriously and that there are no consequences for committing it.
To address the issue of sexual harassment in educational institutes in Pakistan, it is essential to raise awareness and understanding of the issue. This can be done by educating students and staff about the definition of sexual harassment, the consequences of committing it, and the resources available for those who have experienced it. Additionally, educational institutes should establish clear policies and procedures for dealing with sexual harassment, and create training programs to educate employees and students about the issue. Furthermore, creating a safe space for victims of sexual harassment to report incidents without fear of retaliation is key. This can be done by implementing independent and unbiased mechanisms for reporting and investigating complaints of sexual harassment.
It is also important to hold perpetrators accountable for their actions. This can be done by imposing appropriate penalties, such as suspension or expulsion, for those who are found guilty of sexual harassment. Additionally, employers and educational institutes should conduct thorough background checks on potential employees to ensure that they have not been found guilty of sexual harassment in the past.
In conclusion, sexual harassment is a pervasive issue in educational institutes in Pakistan that affects both students and staff. The issue persists due to a lack of awareness and understanding, lack of clear policies and procedures, and lack of accountability for perpetrators. To address the issue, it is essential to raise awareness and understanding of the issue, establish clear policies and procedures, and hold perpetrators accountable for their actions. By taking these steps, we can create a safer and more inclusive environment for learning and personal growth in Pakistan’s educational institutes.
Muhammad Usman Awan is a Blogger and Social Entrepreneur who founded first Anti Harassment Awareness Campaign “Stop Harassment Now”. The Purpose of this campaign is to empower and educate our Girls and Working Women against Harassment.