Scores of underage women studying at Bahria College Islamabad have reported being sexually harassed and molested by a federal board-appointed examiner while they were appearing for their Intermediate examinations.
Bahria College Principal Iqbal Javaid has acknowledged the reports and said that the matter has been reported to the Federal Board of Intermediate and Secondary Education (FBISE). The college has been assured of strict action, he said.
The demands for action against the accused had intensified after one of the students of the college, A*, came forward on social media to call out the alleged predator, saying she was touched inappropriately by him twice during an exam at the college on May 24.
She said the examiner, who had been appointed by the Federal Board of Intermediate and Secondary Information (FBISE), had also made lewd remarks during her examination.
According to A*, this happened in a Bahria College biology teacher's presence. The victim said her teacher had told her to not say anything about the harassment as her marks "were in the examiner's hands".
Following A*'s account, many other students from the female section of the college also came forward with their accounts, most of them posting them anonymously. Another student compiled 18 anonymous testimonies that she later posted on Facebook and Twitter. Many of the victims claimed that the total number of girls harassed by the examiner could be up to 80.
Another victim, M*, when contacted by Dawn.com, said she had already been warned about the man by a friend who had recently gone given her examination. Later, on May 26, when M* arrived at the college for her exam, the other girls were also talking about the examiner, she said. She said she felt she had no option than to face the predator herself.
M* said the examiner cornered her during the examination and then touched her inappropriately, something she said her teacher who was also present in the room had seen. The teacher, however, allegedly looked the other way as M* looked to her for help, she told Dawn.com.
Not only that, M* says the teacher later also told her to remain quiet, saying her marks could be deducted if the examiner was called out.
M* said she did not speak up about the incident until her friends encouraged her to do so.
An eyewitness of another alleged incident of harassment by the same examiner told Dawn.com that on May 27, the examiner had singled out a friend of hers and was "glued" to her during the entire session. Her friend later reported being touched inappropriately by the examiner.
She said her teacher was also shocked and knew about the incidents, but she did not take any immediate action. However, she promised that the complaints would be forwarded after the practical examinations were completed.
M* said that aside from the teacher, a senior staff member of the college also asked them to remain quiet as speaking out may lead to them receiving poor marks on their exams.
The students said over 100 female students took the practical exams overseen by the predator over three days, i.e. May 24, 26 and 27.
They said some students were considering legal action, while others wanted the examiner's license to be revoked for the safety of other students.
Several other social media users claiming to be current and former students of the college and at least one from another college have reported on Facebook and Twitter — using hashtags #TimesUp and #MeToo — about being harassed by the same examiner in the past.
Additional reporting by Wajiha Khanain.
Names have been changed to protect the students' identity.