PESHAWAR: Enquiry reports on cases of sexual harassment in the University of Peshawar (UoP) should be presented before the syndicate to make conclusive decisions without political manouvering from outside. This was stated by lawmakers during a meeting of the special committee on higher education at Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Assembly Secretariat on Thursday.
The committee was chaired by the special adviser to the chief minister on information and higher education, UoP vice chancellor and other MPAs. The meeting was specifically held to review progress on cases of sexual harassment in universities across the province. There was grave concern regarding the increase in number of such cases and methods to curb such practices were discussed in detail.
Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl lawmaker Uzma Khan told The Express Tribune the committee reviewed a case from UoP Disaster Management department where a professor allegedly tried to harass a student in January 2014. She said the case was registered with the university administration after the students from the department protested against the teacher after which he was expelled. However, he appealed to the governor – who also happened to be the chancellor of the university. As a result, the professor was reinstated and the university administration punished.
The JUI-F lawmaker said the governor violated the procedure by interfering in the case. “He should have let the university administration and syndicate do their work – thinking of [the professor] as innocent without an investigation is unfair.” She added the enquiry needs to be handled by the administration and syndicate so they can decide what should be done in such cases.
In November 2014, UoP Life and Environmental dean was accused of harassing his student. The university administration suspended him from his position, however, by January 2015, the governor issued orders to reinstate him.
A number of cases of sexual harassment have surfaced on campus in the last few years. According to Uzma, most of them have been largely politicised.
After discussing several cases during the course of the meeting, it was decided there was a dire need to adopt stringent measures to not only put an end to emerging cases of sexual violence and harassment but also to consistently monitor the system and prevent cases from emerging at all.
The participants of the meeting mutually agreed to install closed-circuit cameras across universities in the province. They also decided to put an end to the use of tinted glass in campus premises.
The committee also directed UoP VC Dr Rasul Jan to present the enquiry report of the cases before the syndicate of the university.