An Islamic university in the capital city of Pakistan, Islamabad is embroiled in a rollicking sex scandal. The university in the limelight is International Islamic University Islamabad (IIUI) and the stories that are emerging from the local press are nothing short of harrowing. Several of their faculty and staff members have been accused of preying on their vulnerable female students and junior staff, in what is turning out to be one sordid tale of sleaze.
Many affiliated with the university admit that, “seedy affairs had been going on in the holy precincts” for some time, but none of them have spoken on record. The acting President Sahabzada Sajidur Rehman of IIUI also confirmed the same. Very recently a professor and a librarian left the university following allegations against them – as charges of rape against emerged. “We did not approach the police to investigate the allegations as it would have brought bad name to the university and set parents of the 9,500 girls studying here worrying,” said the acting President IIUI, Sahabzada Sajidur Rehman.
Some sources in the university claimed that a Professor of the Economics Department used to offer his victims ‘good marks’ in examinations in exchange of sexual favors. The same Professor even resorted to threatening the unwilling victims with the threats of failing them. The worst part? The administration knew all about the seedy, sordid happenings at the IIUI. More alarming was the statement of the President of the University Staff Welfare Association, Chaudhry Mohammad Nazir, who confirmed the situation when he said, “the situation is far worse than what you know.”
IIUI sources claim that the professor’s exploitations ended after the university asked for formal complaint to be filed from his latest victim, so that some official action could be taken against the professor. Sadly, the victim’s family refused to file a formal complaint against the Professor and that was the end of it.
In a country like Pakistan, a woman being subjected to honor killings is not uncommon. For a woman, her dignity is the most important so brining any family or an individual girl’s name in rape cases end up causing more trouble for the victim. They are ostracized from the society and end up dealing with more social harassment. The shame that is associated with a rape victim is so high that even talking about it is taboo. Thus people generally remain hushed about such cases, usually sweeping the victims’ harrowing deal under the rug – that in turn results in little or no action taken against the accused most of the times.
However, in the case of IIUI, despite the victim’s reluctance the Student’ Union took up her case and threatened the university administration about making it public knowledge and most damaging of all, with evidence of the Professor’s misdemeanor. The evidence, according the news piece written in Dawn, claimed to be the same kind of evidence that had gone viral on the internet and forced the IIUI’s old librarian to resign a few months earlier. This was despite the administration’s alleged attempt to make the victim – a female assistant – to resign on the charge that she was a willing partner, which she firmly refused and went on a leave instead. After she returned from her leave, the administration assigned her to a new department, according to her colleagues.
Not that the families of the victims of coercive sex took their sufferings lying down. One father, reportedly a member of the Prime Minister’s staff, instructed the Islamabad police to investigate. When investigators probed, the IIUI officials pleaded with them to hush up the matter as “the accused has already been punished” and a probe would only tarnish the image of the university and scare the parents.
It is a different matter that for the librarian though. The punishment meant retiring six months before it was due, and as for the professor – he resigned on his own and secured a new job in the National Agriculture Research Centre, with the help of his ‘friends’ in the bureaucracy.
Such cases, like mentioned earlier, are generally hushed up for several reasons, most of all for bringing a bad name to the family. But it is high time that the society here learns to shame the actual culprits instead of the victims. It is important to stand up against such unfair punishments for the victims and their families. Collectively the society needs to raise their voice against those who exploit the vulnerability for their personal agendas.
The literacy rate in Pakistan is at a staggering low, more so for women. Even in today’s time, people generally shy away from sending their daughters to attain education, in fear that they will be subjected to such evils. If pertinent steps are not taken towards punishing the criminals of the heinous crimes at IIUI, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see women’s education take another blow, one that would knock it several decades back.