JAMSHORO: Speakers at a seminar on Thursday have stressed the importance of protecting female students from harassment and called for creating broader space and fair treatment of women by men in society especially at workplaces including universities.
They encouraged female students to move ahead freely with their academic activities without any fear on Sindh University campus, proposing varsity administration to immediately setup ‘anti-harassment cells’ in every department and centers in order to ensure protection of girl students.
This they said while addressing the seminar titled “Women Protection: Social & Legal Aspects” which was organized by the Institute of English Language and Literature, University of Sindh, Jamshoro at Shaikh Ayaz Auditorium, Arts Faclty Building in collaboration with Sindh Police.
Presided over by SU Vice Chan¬cellor Prof Dr. Fateh Muhammed Burfat, the seminar was attended by Additional Inspector General of Police Counter-Terrorism Department (CTD) Dr. Sanaullah Abbasi, former Secretary Amnesty International Iqbal Ahmed Detho, Senior Analyst Ghulam Nabi Morai, Analyst & Researcher Asghar Ali Soomro, ASP Police Hyderabad Zahida Parveen and Director SU’s Institute of English Language & Literature (IELL) Prof. Dr. Rafique Ahmed Memmon, besides the faculty and a large number of female students of the university.
Vice Chancellor Prof. Dr. Fateh Muhammad Burfat emphasised the need for changing socio-cultural behaviour and trends in society towards women who he said, were found insecure even within their families for a variety of reasons.
He said education, employment and empowerment were very important for women.
“The objectives of organizing this seminar are assure female students that the entire administration is with them and safe as well as secure environment will be provided to them at every cost,” said the vice chancellor.
He announced to setup cells in all 57 departments and centers to address the issue of harassment of women on the proposal given by one of the speakers Asghar Soomro. These anti-harassment cells would soon come up with a gender policy, he promised, and called for cooperation of the faculty and students in further developing the Alma Mater.
Dr. Burfat observed that a particular feudalistic approach was responsible for mistreatment of women in the province, emphasizing the role of parents in bridging emotional, psychological and communication gap with their children.
“This gap actually was largely responsible for major incidents involving women; the female students must share every happening with their parents, they should make their parents as the best friends”, he added.
However, Dr. Burfat said, female student must continue their journey in quest of education and research at SU without any fear as being the vice chancellor.
“I am here to ensure the protection of girl students on the campus. If women students undergo any problem, they should write the complaint on a piece of paper and drop it into the any of the complaint boxes installed outside Vice Chancellor’s Office and House; I will surely take action as I personally monitor these boxes on daily basis”, he maintained.
AGP CTD Dr. Sanaullah Abbasi said that if the country had poor ranking in terms of gender issues, this showed a huge disconnect between the state and its citizens.
Society would also have to come forward to put things on track because the state alone could not do anything, he said, adding that human civilisation had entered the era of knowledge where physical strength did not matter.
He said laws on women’s rights existed and women must assert themselves.
He advised female students to feel empowered and to walk around campus freely as the university administration and police are there to ensure their protection and security.
“I have seen a lot of improvements and reforms introduced in a bid to ameliorate the condition of women in the country; In comparison with India and other countries, much has been done to empower women in Pakistan”, he maintained.
He further said it was a tragedy of Sindhi society that people did not do so what they talked of adding that there were many bad as well as negative things which could be ended by the people themselves.
“People must treat women like their mothers, sisters and daughters; if a person is on right direction, no one can harm him”, he said and added that the blame game culture should be brought to an end.
Dr. Abbasi said that those candidates who succeeded in CSS exams every year, a record 99 percent out of them belonged to rural areas of Sindh and came from downtrodden and poor families.
“Those who get highest positions after becoming CSS officers, should serve the poor and needy people instead of minting money through corruption as I have observed it in my 30-year police service”, he maintained.
He told that a number of girl candidates applied for the job in police force and all of them would be recruited as a part of empowering women in the province.
The former secretary of Amnesty International Iqbal Ahmed Detho said that the societies had not accepted women as human so far adding that the rights of women were not being given to them.
“The discrimination and prejudice continue with women on every matter in Pakistan; they are not being treated as important part of this society”, he lamented.
He further said that the inequality, disparity and injustices must be ended with this beautiful creation of God adding that the universe would have been colorless if the women had not existed.
Senior analyst Ghulam Nabi Morai told women students not to be afraid of eve-teasers and not to consider themselves weak because they had to compete in society and lead it.
He claimed as saying that before 2017, the classes at SU would not take place and the teachers used to be reluctant to take their classes but after the appointment of Dr. Fateh Muhammad Burfat as the vice chancellor on January 19, 2017, the circumstances took a new turn and the classes were being run properly.
“I think this is a big change; Dr. Burfat is rapidly taking the varsity to new heights of success and prosperity”, he said and observed that the literacy rate in Pakistan was extremely low whereas the situation in Sindh was worst even from it.
Senior journalist and columnist Asghar Soomro proposed to setup anti-harassment cells in every department which should closely monitor the activities of students and teachers. This will help make the things better, he added.
He said that the anti-harassment cells must work effectively. Each and every complaint if there was any should be investigated properly, he said. These cells should also be empowered to handle cases of other kind of violence, he suggested.
ASP City Hyderabad Zahida Parveen emphasised that students and research fellows are protected against sexual harassment under the law.
She underlined that the legislation was there which not only covered the employees in a workplace, but also students who worked under a faculty who could, with his or her authority, exercised influence on students or research fellows that could be detrimental to their academic progress. She called upon the students to avail the services of Police in this regard.
“I am here to protect you. If the female students have any complaint from someone, they should directly contact me”, she said addressing the girls.
The director of IELL Dr. Rafique Memon said that the atmosphere on SU campus was friendly for female students but if they still feel unprotected, must come to him, he will always be there to help them out.