The students of Balochistan University continue to protest against the university administration after a series of reports harassing students emerged on media.
Various student organisations on Thursday staged a protest outside the Quetta Press Club against alleged harassment and blackmailing of students by few members of the university administration.
The student protest organized under the banner of Students Educational Alliance, the leaders leading the protest accused the UoB Vice-Chancellor responsible for the entire scandal, claiming that the VC was “head of the blackmailers and saviour of the culprits”. The protest entered the fourth day on Thursday. The students also marched throughout the university to mount the pressure on the administration to take action against the culprits.
“THE sexual harassment and blackmailing scandal that has erupted at the University of Balochistan may well have jeopardised the education of thousands of young women in the province….
— Sal Khan سلمان خان सलमान खान 🏳️🌈 (@angrybrowngay) October 18, 2019
Baloch Students Action Committee distributing brochures at the #Balochistan University.
— WBO Reports (@WBOreports) October 17, 2019
The protests were held not only in Balochistan University but in several other universities across Pakistan including Punjab University to express solidarity with the victims of sexual harassment.
A day earlier, the UoB’s Academic Staff Association had distanced itself from the scandal and pointed the finger at the university administration, including the VC.
The scandal surfaced a month ago after Balochistan High Court had ordered Federal Investigative Agency to probe the reports of sexual harassment of students at the university.
Hundreds of students, from different groups and ethnicities, rallied against the alleged sexual harassment scandal at Balochistan University. It’s the first time in decades that Balochistan’s student groups have joined hands on an issue. #BalochistanUniversityScandal https://t.co/vg1Ctt7c72
— Balochistan Times (@BaluchistanTime) October 17, 2019
— Rubina Hummal (@ZehriiiBaloch) October 15, 2019
Protest against harassment, blackmail of girls in Balochistan University Demand to arrest Vice Chancellor Javed Iqbal pic.twitter.com/fcQlEIlpd3
— Zubair Shah Agha (@ZubairShahAgha1) October 15, 2019
The FIA in the investigation revealed that several students including both male and female were being blackmailed by some staff members through ‘objectionable’ videos of them, recorded through CCTV cameras hidden at various places on the campus including its washrooms.
The videos were recorded using at least six hidden cameras that were secretly installed at various spots in the university’s Quetta campus, in addition to the already existing official CCTV cameras.
FIA has reported having recovered 12 videos, with females making up most of the victims.
Official sources claimed that the videos were personal and involved the mingling of female and male students. These videos from the cameras installed in the washrooms and smoking areas were used to harass students. The FIA has so far interrogated nearly 200 officials of Balochistan University.
The investigation into the scandal is expected to delay further following the failure of the meeting to elect the chairman to head a 10-member body of Balochistan’s Assembly Parliamentary Committee, formulated to probe the scandal.
The startling revelations stirred reactions from various public office holders and institutions. Governor Balochistan Amanullah Khan Yasinzai, who is also chancellor of all provincial universities, assured to take strict action against criminals involved in harassing students.
“Whosoever found involved in demoralizing educational structure in Balochistan will be brought to justice because the UoB’s scandal has triggered anger in society,” the governor said.
He, however, pleaded teachers and students to exercise restraint, provincial government and university administration will take legal action.
“The hooligans who harassed and blackmailed students would be dealt with strictly and punished for maligning the mother educational institution of Balochistan,” said Yasinzai.
Sex attacks on refugee women/girls surge in Egypt. Girls secretly filmed/blackmailed at Balochistan University. But don’t expect any outcry from mullahs in the Muslim world. Girls wearing jeans is a far greater issue for them
— Haroun Rashid (@HarounRashid2) October 18, 2019
Higher Education Commission of Pakistan has also vowed to solve the crisis. The video scandal has been included in the list of agenda of the meeting of vice-chancellors to be convened on October 21st.
Administration of Balochistan University had been surveilling, secretly recording videos of male & female students & then blackmailing them on the basis of those videos while using 6 cameras that were secretly installed at various spots in the university. https://t.co/vKsYjDZJy5
— Nighat Dad (@nighatdad) October 15, 2019
I even don't know from where to begin! People think education is answer to all social evils but here in a university heavily loaded with Security Force the most senior level management, VC and Professors are involved in Sexual harassment of students https://t.co/3QWxgFJGZ2
— Gulalai Ismail ګلالۍاسماعیل (@Gulalai_Ismail) October 16, 2019
The regional Ombusperson Sabir Khatoon also assured the due legal action against the culprits, but also action would be taken against institutions failing to implement Anti-Harassment Act -2016.
The sexual harassment and blackmailing scandal have caused an uproar on social media as several social media users called out the university administration for failing to protect the dignity of the students. Some have raised concerns, calling it synonymous with attacking the cause of education in Balochistan- a province that is already struggling to beef up its social and economic development.
Others have asserted that the scandal has brought disgrace to Pakistan and educational institutes.