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Harassment inquiry: UAF body summons complainants on 24th

Harassment inquiry: UAF body summons complainants on 24th

FAISALABAD: A fact-finding committee of the University of Agriculture Faisalabad (UAF) summoned on March 24 the students who filed a complaint of sexual harassment against their thesis supervisor.

At least three students of MSc (Hons) had alleged that their supervisor, who is an assistant professor at the university, had sexually harassed them and used objectionable language on March 1 and 2 while checking their theses. The UAF had replaced the suspect as the supervisor.

Faculty members questioned the all-male committee formed to probe into the sexual harassment allegations. The members included Food Sciences Dean Dr Masood Sadiq Butt, National Institute of Food Sciences and Technology (Nifsat) Director General (DG) Dr Tahir Zahoor and Animal Husbandry Dean Dr Muhammad Aslam Mirza.

They asked how the students would be able to narrate the harassment to an all-male committee, sources said, adding that the inclusion of women in such committees was mandatory. The faculty also questioned the inclusion of the director general of Nifsat in the team who headed the department where the incidents supposedly took place.

They further claimed that after complaining to Students Affairs Director Shahbaz Talib, the girls also met the DG and informed him about the situation. Instead of holding a departmental inquiry, they said, the DG tried to pacify the girls and said now he would supervise their theses.

Sources said that a senior faculty member of the Nifsat has asked the complainants to meet him in his office prior to joining the inquiry proceedings. However, they questioned why the teacher wanted to meet them beforehand.

They said that some women teachers had been asked to assist the committee verbally and also maintain liaison with the complainants so they could present their points of view comfortably during the inquiry.

The UAF spokesperson did not respond when asked why action has been delayed against the suspect when the incident allegedly took place on March 1 and 2, when the committee will submit its report and how the suspect could be penalised.

Newspaper: Dawn

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