Sexual harassment


News that some teachers in certain schools in Lahore have been sexually harassing minor girls for years, which went viral on social media recently, is cause for very serious concern and must be handled with extreme caution. That schools in question have chosen to act quickly ought to be welcomed, but it should be ensured that they do not just let go of the teachers in question and hope to bury the whole issue under the carpet with that. These charges should be properly probed by relevant authorities and the perpetrators, some of whom have pretty compelling evidence against them already circulating on the internet, should be made to pay legally.
The matter of harassment, especially when minors are concerned, is very sensitive and unfortunately it is not treated with the seriousness it deserves in our society. There are problems at every level. First students, who are still minors, feel pressured and a large majority instinctively choses to stay silent. Then some that do come forward are often accused of ‘leading them on’, as some girls have claimed in the present case as well, which does their confidence no good. And in some extreme cases scared girls have been treated violently by their own families when they have decided to seek help. At the very least, a very large number of women are taken off schools and colleges in rural areas simply because of the excessive harassment they face there.
Considering all this it is an encouraging development that Human Rights Minister Shireen Mazari has taken note of these accusations at “two premier private institutions in Lahore.” Now there is an urgent need to move forward on this issue. Most people going through their school and college years never realise the trauma of somebody who is harassed all the time by people in authority. That makes it all the more important to support brave voices that do come out now and then, so proper examples can be made out of people who think they can get away with such depravity. Schools are considered sacred places because of the nature of the service they provide. And teachers are rightly referred to as spiritual parents. But once teachers try to sexually exploit students in schools, they break that sacred bond and deserve the most serious punishment.