NAWABSHAH: The vice chancellor and a lecturer at the Shaheed Benazir Bhutto University (SBBU), Nawabshah, were on Tuesday booked in a sexual harassment case several days after a final-year student revealed her months-long ordeal to the media.
Farzana Jamali told local reporters that the lecturer had long been subjecting her to sexual harassment which disturbed her to the extent that she had almost decided to commit suicide.
She said that not only her studies were badly affected, but her family was also devastated as her father was sent behind bars for approaching the vice chancellor and police to seek their help. He was implicated in a false case to restrain him from his efforts to get the lecturer reined in.
The lecturer denied her allegations and claimed that he had reprimanded Ms Jamali for often being absent which might have offended her. He wondered why she resorted to levelling such “mean and serious allegations” against him. He also alleged that her father, along with some armed men, had attacked and thrashed him severely on Ms Jamali’s complaint.
Protests against harassment in several towns pick up
Ms Jamali had first revealed her ordeal in a press conference at the Nawabshah Press Club on Sunday and the lecturer had defended himself and made counter-allegations the following day, when Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf MPA Haleem Adil Shaikh visited the Jamali family and assured them of appropriate action against anyone found errant in the matter.
On Tuesday, Ms Jamali lodged an FIR against the lecturer as well as the vice chancellor under Sections 506 and 509(i) and (ii) of the Pakistan Penal Code.
She stated in the FIR that she had been sexually harassed by the lecturer and VC to the extent that at one stage she almost decided to commit suicide. She further stated that her father had approached the VC with the complaint against the lecturer but he, too, told him to send her to his office “alone” and go for a compromise with the lecturer in the matter.
She said her father did not come to the VC’s terms and eventually an application regarding harassment was submitted in a local court. However, she added, her father was implicated in a false case and sent to jail.
Speaking to Dawn on Tuesday, MPA Shaikh said the police registered Ms Jamali’s FIR on his intervention. He said he had approached the Sindh police chief in this regard a day earlier.She stated in the FIR that it was a matter of her life, liberty, honor, reputation, dignity and future.
The MPA said the PTI government was determined to make environment at all educational institutions safe and sound for their students and faculty.
While the court has summoned SHO of the Taluka police station on Sept 6 on Ms Jamali’s application, Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah has constituted an inquiry team headed by former Sindh University vice chancellor Prof Qadeer Rajput. The CM ordered formation of the team after Ms Jamali expressed her distrust in an inquiry committee proposed to be headed by the commissioner of Shaheed Benazirabad.
Protests in several towns
Nationalist groups and rights organisations on Tuesday intensified their campaign for “justice to Ms Jamali” by holding demonstrations outside press clubs of Hyderabad, Nawabshah and several other cities and towns of Sindh.
Jeay Sindh Qaumi Mahaz (JSQM) and Sindh Taraqqi-pasand Party (STP) had started the campaign on Sunday while Qaumi Awami Tehreek (QAT), Jeay Sindh Mahaz-Riaz (JSM-R) and other nationalist groups joined the protest separately.
QAT president Ayaz Latif Palijo condemned harassment of Ms Jamali and demanded a transparent investigation. He observed that the vice chancellor concerned had made himself suspicious by running his social media campaign against Ms Jamali.
He recalled the infamous Naila Rind murder case and called for taking it to its logical end. Ms Rind, a final-year student of Sindh University, was found hanged to death in her hostel room on Jan 1, 2017.
JSM-R chairman Riaz Chandio and vice chairman Azizullah Bhutto also condemned harassment of the student and observed that education institutions in Sindh had become dangerous for students despite presence of law enforcement agencies’ personnel on the campuses.
Sindh Human Rights Commission activist Shamshad Kanwal, condemning the episode, regretted that those studying at higher seats of learning were faced with such uncivilised attitudes. She noted that such incidents used to be reported in the past as well but grievances of victims had never been addressed.
Representatives of various non-governmental organisations including Advocate Ali Palh, Suleman G. Abro, Zulfikar Halepoto and Syma Jafri told a press conference that stern action should be taken against those found guilty of sexual harassment at educational institutions.
Speaking from the forum of Coalition for Ending Gender-base Violence in Sindh, they called for strict implementation of laws on women protection.
Farzana Jamali and another such victim, Shabnam Jarwar, also spoke at the press conference. They said that despite their complaints, no meaningful action was taken to provide relief to them.
They shared details of their cases with the reporters. Ms Jarwar, a student of the Sindh Agriculture University (SAU), Tandojam, said two policemen tried to kidnap her in the town on Aug 16 while she was returning home from the university. She said the policemen tried to force her to board their official vehicle (mobile van).