Showing solidarity with students and teachers of the University of Balochistan (UoB) protesting against campus harassment, students, political and civil society activists in Karachi staged a protest outside the Karachi Press Club on Thursday.
For past three days, UoB students and academic staff have been protesting over the alleged harassment and blackmail of students at the campus unearthed by the Federal Investigation Agency.
A month ago, the Balochistan High Court had directed the FIA to look into the sexual harassment reports which had emerged from the BoU. 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.
The participants of the protest, organised by the Baloch Students Organisation’s Karachi chapter, lamented that the harassment scandal had severely affected the atmosphere of education in the Balochistan province in general and at the UoB in particular.
They carried banners and placards inscribed with slogans such as “remove the BoU VC” and “no to harassment”. “The scandal has shaken students’ trust in educational institutions,” said Abdullah Mir. He demanded a comprehensive probe into the scandal.
Naghma Shaikh, a rights activist, said that harassment cases were very common in academic institutions in Pakistan and in most cases women did not wish to file complaints against their harassers to avoid intimidation and vilification, fearing that taking such action could result in their families forcing them to quit studying.