The Harassment Scandal in University of Balochistan – TBP Report
Author: Yaran Diyar
Balochistan: The largest and a resource-rich part of Balochistan lies in Pakistan, which makes it also largest province of the country. It has one of the largest gold mines in the world plus natural gas, coal mines, various minerals and deep seaport, which is currently an important part of China’s One Belt One Road project but at the same time it is the most neglected, most deprived and underdeveloped region.
Balochistan has been in the news time to time due to multiple problems such as human rights violations, terrorism, insurgency, poverty, inflation, unemployment, corruption, healthcare and illiteracy but harassment. This time the safest region of the country with regard to harassment is in the news after ‘the harassment scandal at university of Balochistan by university administration’.
Antecedently, the grotesquely-shamed news with respect to the unscrupulous observation and badgering of the students in University of Balochistan (UOB) by some of the university’s authoritative representatives has spread like a wildfire.
Normally the demands of the students of Balochistan for basic rights and claims for being discriminated are not taken seriously by the state but this news has received authenticity and attention due to proofs and confirmation by the Federal Investigation Agency of Pakistan.
Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) started investigation under the direction of Balochistan High Court (BHC) in this regard, and investigated and arrested some of the university’s employees as well.
Due to being deprived of their many basic rights and not having control on their resources the people of Balochistan already have strong anti-Pakistan feelings and ideologies where such an incident of harassment of the female students is working as a fuel on the fire. The incident has been strongly condemned by social and political organizations across the province and the country, as well as it has erupted the storm of protests by students of Quetta, Khuzdar, Turbat, Lasbela, Karachi, Sindh and the capital Islamabad.
The student protests are unprecedented at a university where political activism is banned due to insurgency in the region. The university campus is used as a base by the Frontier Corps, a paramilitary force deployed in Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa to help keep order and patrol the border areas with Afghanistan and Iran. Soldiers are active on campus and students have to undergo stringent security checks when they enter their hostel accommodation, The Guardian newspaper reported.
The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) has also expressed concerns about the issue and their fact-finding mission has found the proofs of surveillance on campus at the University of Balochistan.
Women Resource Center: A non-govt. organization has said, “the shameful act of harassment has hit the social and cultural values due to which the women education will be affected badly”.
BSO-Azad, a prominent student organization in Balochistan stated that the recent Balochistan University incident is the result of Balochistan’s educational institutions being subjected to security forces control, which clarifies the hostile practices of security forces and its corrupt mafia against education in Balochistan. The occurrence of such incidents in educational institutions is a clear example of sexual misconduct, which shows that these elements also seek to satisfy their sexual desires by hiding behind a sacred profession.
BSO: “This isn’t satisfactory; we cannot compromise on our nobility,” Khalid Baloch, the central committee member of Baloch Students Organization said.
A pro-independence leader, Dr. Allah Nizar Baloch has also condemned the harassment of students in the University of Balochistan saying that such stories of oppression and humiliation are not new in Balochistan. This incident is a part of the same old strategy of brutalities and humiliation. It is not only an attack on the honour of Baloch people but also a deliberate assault on human dignity.
The spokesperson of BRP, Sher Mohammed Bugti tweeted that, “The students who raised voice against injustice, instead of justice the state has banished them from the university, have put handcuffs in their hands & thrown behind bars. This is the level & value of basic human rights in Pakistan.”
Sexual harassment scandal in University of Balochistan.d students who raised voice against injustice, instead of justice d state has banished them from d university, have put handcuffs in their hands & thrown behind bars.this is d level & value of basic human rights in Pak. @hrw pic.twitter.com/E68QjuCHRL
— Sher Mohammad Bugti (@SherM_BRP) October 15, 2019
BSAC: The chairperson of Baloch Students Action Committee has stated that, investigations should be launched in all the major educational institutions across the province including Sardar Bahadur Khan Woman’s University and BUITMS, and the elements involved in violence against women should be punished strictly, according to the bill passed by the Provincial Assembly.
BNM: Baloch National Movement Chairman Khalil Baloch had tweeted in the reaction of the Vice Chancellors stepping down from his position. “The removal of Vice Chancellor wouldn’t improve anything at University of Balochistan. He was working on the behest of FC and army. If someone wants to get things right in Balochistan, the accountability process needs to begin with the FC and the army. They are the real boss.” He said.
Akhtar Mengal, former Chief minister of Balochistan and head of BNP, said that cameras were installed in female students rooms in Balochistan University in Quetta, the education rate for girls is already low there, and parents are now more worried.
PSO: “This harassment was going on for a long time within the University,” Kabeer Afghan, the central office-bearer of Pashtoonkhwa Students Organization said.
#Baloch female student exposed main characters:The installation of Secret cameras CCTV in female #students hostel in the #University of #Balochistan and sexual harassment,blackmailing main characters r #PakArmy & #ISI security forces#Kashmir @Fayak_Wani1 @Ibne_Sena @Sai_Twiinkle pic.twitter.com/peHZeYFrCa
— Sifa (@_sifa_k) October 23, 2019
Pictures from protest against the sexual harassment and blackmailing of students in UOB Quetta
— Progressive Students Fed – Karachi (@PrsfK) October 22, 2019
High rate of illiteracy is always the core cause of many problems in underdeveloped societies. Literacy rate in Balochistan is the lowest in the country. It currently stands at 41%. The situation in rural areas and female education is worse.
Due to social and economic factors, the female literacy is much lower than males in Balochistan, where women make about 49% of the entire population.
And now the harassment scandal of the university will effect badly the female education in all over Balochistan and the parents will be deviated from sending their daughters to educational institutes for higher studies which would ultimately handicap the overall educational ratio of females.
There is an urgent need of an independent investigation into the whole issue, and the culprits should be strongly punished so that the trust of female students’ parents is restored.