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Woman teacher alleges harassment

MUZAFFARGARH, June 20: A woman instructor of the Vocational Training Institute (VTI) of Muzaffargarh complains about sexual harassment at work by the principal of the institute and the chairman of the District Board of Management and demands action against both the officials.

Talking to Dawn, Nagma Malik, a junior dress-making instructor at the VTI, said that on June 11, District Board of Management President Syed Ayub Shah and VTI Principal Aqeel Ahmed came to her room and asked her to satisfy their lust. She said she was terrified to listen to it and flatly refused to meet their demands besides asking them to leave the room.

Then, both officials tried to first seduce her through offering different carrots and then tried to overpower her physically but she resisted them. Later, both Shah and Aqeel warned her of consequences if she did not meet their demand. She said their persistent pestering led her to a near nervous breakdown . Her colleagues rushed her to the Social Security Hospital to be referred to Nishtar Hospital in Multan because of her unstable condition. Nishtar Hospital doctors treated her and later discharged her advising her complete rest.

Ms Malik said that Mr Shah visited the institute every day and often called her to the principal office for one reason or another. She said he used to ask her to sit in his room for “chat” and made “advances”. She said all female trainees were frightened by Mr Shah and Mr Aqeel.

She said she would meet women rights champion Mukhtar Mai to seek her help against the accused. She said she sent applications to the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan for raising her voice against the accused. She claimed if an inquiry was held against the principal and Mr Shah, many “revelations” would come to the life.

She said she had sent the copies of her application to Chief Minister Mian Shahbaz Sharif, the Punjab Vocational Training Institute chairman, the Punjab Zakat and Ushr minister, the Chief Minister Complaint Cell in charge, the Chief Minister Inspection Team chairman and local members of the national and provincial assemblies.

Mr Shah is a technical director with a local private textile mills. Ms Malik said if no action was taken against the accused, she would commit suicide.

When Dawn contacted, VTI Principal Aqeel said the instructor had fainted due to summer heat and that he was unaware of the allegations against him. He said he was a gentleman and would never think of such acts. Mr Shah was not available for comment as he was not present in his mills office and his cell phone was powered off.
Source: Dawn
Date:6/21/2008

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