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Veil a protection for students against harassment

April 09, 2012

A veiled woman supporter of Islamic groups uses her iPad to film a demonstration against the Syrian regime and to show their solidarity with the Syrian people, in the southern port city of Sidon, Lebanon, on Friday Feb. 10, 2012.
More and more female students of University of Peshawar are veiling themselves from head to toe to evade eve-teasers.—AP Photo

PESHAWAR: More and more female students of University of Peshawar are veiling themselves from head to toe to evade eve-teasers, who stalk and harass them on campus without let or hindrance.

A visit to this government-run university, one of the biggest in the province and background interviews with female students has revealed to Dawn that majority of girls face harassment inside the varsity quite often but lack courage to file a complaint with police on campus for fear of stigma.

Representing a few, a student said: “We don’t know how and where to file a complaint.”

The law to protect women from harassment at workplace was enacted in March 2010. Thereafter, Higher Education Commission issued guidelines to all universities in the country to set up committees to address such complaints but many female students, who face eve-teasing on campus, call it a huge discouragement. They also lack courage to file a complaint with the campus police station.

“Eve-teasing is one of the burning issues on campus but girls do not come forward to file a complaint. They prefer to ignore such incidents,” said Inspector Abdus Salam Khalid when asked if they ever got a complaint against eve-teasers.

With the eve-teasing incidents on campus growing, use of veil by female students has grown.

“Whether a girl is pretty or not or whether she is wearing a veil or just covered her head, boys would tease her just for fun,” said a female student.

Most of female students are unaware of the existence of ethics committee, any other body or law to protect them against harassment. They say they stay quiet when someone teases them and don’t even tell their parents about it.

“We don’t tell our parents because they would get worried and stop us from coming to university,” said a veiled girl.

According to female students, in the end, it is a girl, who suffers as taunts and jeer mentally tortures her.

No girl has the courage to file a complaint with campus police station for fear of stigma.

“I don’t know if such guys have any respect for their sisters and mothers,” said another female student.

According to her, the university should make security arrangements so that at least girls feel safe on campus.

Last year, an MPA raised the issue of the female students’ alleged harassment at University of Peshawar by their teachers, including some seniors, on the floor of the House.

Ironically, only one teacher was suspended for harassment before the matter was hushed up on the pretext that the relevant female student did not file a complaint.

A source in UoP said when the inquiry into the said case of harassment began, it was held in the open so no one came forward.