Aftermath of anti-harassment march: Islamia college female Students face intimidation and threats

In the aftermath of a peaceful march against sexual harassment organized by students of Islamia legal Fraternity society on 11 March 2020, students have faced backlash and intimidation by the faculty and administration of the Islamia College Peshawar. Our correspondent talked to Maimoona Zeb, President of Islamia legal Fraternity.

Maimoona Zeb told The Student’s Herald that unluckily harassment is a widespread issue not just present in Islamia college but the entire society. “The sad part is that our society is still not ready to talk about this and considers it a taboo,” said Maimoona Zeb. “In a society that wishes to brush these issues under the rug, it was not easy for us to take such a step. There can be horrible consequences of breaking the silence and talking about it, but we were ready for the consequences because we are not in a position to put up with the increasing rate of harassment; it has already cost us a lot.”

She further elaborated that the motive behind organizing this walk was to highlight the issue and create awareness; for this purpose, students of Islamia college also ran an awareness campaign on campus three days before the march. This awareness campaign was followed by a peaceful march against sexual harassment in general, and it was about those involved in it.

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But she said that it was not an easy task to do, “Where we received a lot of appreciation, we also faced a  huge backlash on social media where people from all over Pakistan appreciated it, and the issue was highlighted. However, there were many who manipulated our statements. Again and again, it was reiterated by members of the faculty that the march targeted teachers, which was not the case. The backlash from the faculty was so severe that many students were threatened by some instructors and teachers of the university in response to taking part in the march, and a huge issue was made out of it. Deliberately the issue was made controversial, and the students and their motives were associated with some active cases already under trial in the court of law.”

However, Zeb told us that there was a silver lining to the could, and a positive change was seen among the students. The march encouraged and motivated women on campus to share their stories. In response, students poured out support to those fighting against harassment on campus and expressed solidarity. But even after such a response from the student body, highlighting how widespread the issue is,  the administration was uncooperative and did little to hold harassers on campus accountable. “Still, luckily, no new case of harassment appeared, and we are hoping that no student on campus will ever go through such a situation,” said Zeb.

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This report was compiled and written by our Reporter in Peshawar. To write for The Students Herald contact: writetostudentsherald@gmail.com

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