Harassment case: Two more staffers suspended after students put forth demands

Updated 03 Jul 2020

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Maira Omair Rana and Rubina Shakil among suspended teachers for turning a blind eye to harassment cases brought before them. — Dawn archives
Maira Omair Rana and Rubina Shakil among suspended teachers for turning a blind eye to harassment cases brought before them. — Dawn archives

LAHORE: At least two more members of the staff from the Lahore Grammar School were suspended after a charter of demands drafted by students and alumni of the LGS 1A1 was presented to the director of the school.

Those who were suspended included the names of main accused Ms Maira Omair Rana and Ms Rubina Shakil for turning a blind eye to the harassment cases brought before them. In the aftermath of the story published in Dawn on June 30, 2020, more allegations by students have surfaced on social media of sexual harassment on campus.

The charter was prepared in response to these claims of sexual harassment which surfaced earlier this week. The students and alumni representatives pushed for a complete reform in the school with regard to sexual harassment which was accepted by the director.

“Ms Nighat Ali said that many of the demands were already being imposed in the school while the rest were also something that they agreed upon and would soon implement them in coming days,” said a representative. “Overall change will take some time but the school was more than happy to listen to us.”

Earlier, the teachers involved in harassment were terminated. An inquiry committee will be overseen by Ms Ali, and will comprise senior members of LGS as well as alumni representatives.

There was the demand of making the procedure of complaints and counseling accessible for harassment victims. A form to be filled in details of a complaint was advised by the students so that they could fill it in themselves without the involvement of parents, and to hide their privacy.

“We also asked them to put up an anti-harassment policy in a public place including the website,” said the alumni representative. “There must also be trainings for all teachers and faculties, and handbooks.”

Meanwhile, the Women’s Action Forum Lahore finally broke its silence and expressed its ‘disturbance’ over the news of harassment allegations. The WAF appreciated the students who had the courage and confidence to complain about sexual harassment and bringing a very serious though neglected issue to public notice. They highlighted that sexual harassment was found in all private and public institutions, as well as in single sex and coeducational institutions and madrassahs where both girls and boys are vulnerable.

The WAF highlighted that the Punjab Sexual Harassment at Workplace Act, 2014 does not apply to students and that an effective system and mechanism within it needs to be put in place to ensure that students’ complaints are immediately heard and addressed. It also said that parents must also recognize the importance of initiatives such as school workshops on CSA, puberty and adolescence that are taken to ensure the safety of the child.

“It is not the matter of just one school, neither should it be sensationalized,” said one member of WAF. “This is a social evil present in every sector and every institution, be it a madrassah or a private school.”

Published in Dawn, July 3rd, 2020