A group of students in Karachi are pushing for private A-level schools to come up with a policy on sexual harassment after several students shared their experiences on social media and criticised their institutions for alleged lack of initiative in taking action against perpetrators.
The issue was brought to light on Facebook after several students accused their schools of failing to take sufficient action against fellow students and/or teachers accused of harassment.
Encouraged by the victims speaking up about their experiences, several female students from a private school came forward with their accounts of how they were subjected to harassment in the past, but their school had done nothing citing “a lack of proof”.
The posts have since spawned a Facebook page titled #TimesUp, possibly in reference to a movement initiated by Hollywood celebrities that advocates for prevention of sexual harassment.
The page has been inviting students to share their experiences and name and shame predators in Pakistani academia.
The problem, as per the movement’s creators, is two-fold; the actions of predators and the “unsympathetic behaviour” of schools.
The Pakistani #TimesUp campaigners demand “a policy on sexual harassment so that every time a girl reports a case she is not left hopeless and helpless.”
Sexual harassment in Pakistan
Sexual harassment, abuse and discrimination in Pakistan’s workplaces, including universities, is pervasive, and is mostly unreported and ignored by senior managers, a Dawn survey of 300 women had found in April.
A month prior, the University of Karachi, where a recent high-profile case had come to the fore, had announced that a harassment watch committee would be set up in each department/institute and a complaint box would be placed at the Vice Chancellor’s Secretariat.