Saturday, March 2, 2024
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Sexual Violence at college campuses is extremely widespread in Pakistan. There is a significant imbalance of power in colleges, the teachers and administrative staff can adversely affect the student’s future by lowering their grades and taking away extra-curricular opportunities from them. This makes students particularly vulnerable to sexual harassment. Sexual violence that is perpetrated by students against other students is also prevalent.

Harassment, is defined in The Protection against Harassment of Women at the Workplace Act 2010 as, any unwelcome sexual advance, request for sexual favors or other verbal or written communication or physical conduct of a sexual nature or sexually demeaning attitudes, causing interference with work performance or creating an intimidating, hostile or offensive work environment, or the attempt to punish the complainant for refusal to comply to such a request or is made a condition for employment.

The gravity of situation can be gauged by having a look at data by Dukhtar foundation, a non-government organization, they have received more than 20,741 complaints, astonishingly, 16981 complaints – 82% of the total – were filed by female students of different universities. The complaints received from the universities are regarding professors/lecturers’ sexually harassing female students.

Youth For Pakistan, a national level nonprofit organization partnered with Pakistan’s two top most human rights organization; Network for Human Rights & Justice (NHRJ) and Pakistan International Human Rights Organization (PIHRO) and initiated Students Defender for the sole purpose of defending students across all universities in Pakistan for sexual harassment and a) to provide aggrieved with free legal/psychological assistance, b) to arrange a series of workshops and seminars for both students and staff members across Pakistan 3) to create a network of lawyers across the country to provide aggrieved person with timely and free assistance. 4) to train Volunteers (Students Defender) in all public and private sector universities.