Editors In-depth analysis

Pakistan’s Islamic Republic claim fails over women safeguard

Marila Latif

9 January 2019:

Pakistan was created on the basis of religion, a Muslim majority nation that would execute its political, social, moral and materialistic approach through Islam and yet, after 72 years of its creation, Pakistan still fails to become an Islamic republic. As Islam allows women to study, work and a better life- Pakistan’s endurance seem opposite.

In the University of Balochistan, women fears to visit college due to the blackmailing from staff men. Their experience is similar, one of many cases of alleged sexual harassment at this government-run university, where allegations have been made that its officials used security camera footage of male and female students mingling to extort and blackmail them.

Balochistan is already dealing with tumultuous tribulations, its female literacy rate is 33.5 per cent, and the danger of harassment is often cited by parents who refuse to send their daughters to school. Only 5.07 per cent of Pakistan’s roughly 102 million women ever complete university, according to the country’s bureau of statistics. In such a low literacy rate, the blackmailing won’t let a lady come out from his door.

In October last year, the Balochistan High Court directed the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) to investigate the allegations against university officials, directing officials to submit a full report on the blackmail allegations. News of the scandal led Javed Iqbal, the university’s vice-chancellor, to step down, and many parents pulled their daughters out of the university again because of social taboos and inhibition.

In 2019, of the 153 countries ranked for women’s inclusion, justice and security, Pakistan were ranked at number 150, with the highest discrimination against women in the world. It also identifies around 500,000 “missing girls” in Pakistan between 2010-15, which indicates that half a million more female children should have been born in the country during the period was it not for the son-bias. This discrimination was never accepted by Islam so Pakistan cannot claim that it is an Islamic republic. Even the Islamic Prophet Muhammad PBUH has repeatedly given more importance to women.

After a lot of struggle for education in Pakistan, girls who were coming into the education field with their opinions now feel threatened.

Balochistan, Pakistan’s largest but least populated province, is rich in mineral resources and is home to a port at the heart of China’s $60bn China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) project that runs through the country.

The province is, however, one of the least developed parts of the country, with its vast, rugged terrain only sparsely populated by small towns and villages.

According to the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics, less than 12 per cent women in Balochistan made it past the primary school which means women barely are educated. A university or hostel is like a home and if a daughter isn’t safe at school, then her parents won’t let her study at the university especially in a country where women beg for their fundamental rights.

The university currently has 56 security cameras in operation, down from 94 cameras, three of which did not work. According to the registrar, the university disconnected “unnecessary” cameras, referring to the installation of in “unauthorised” places but it happened when the scandal of misuse appeared before the administration.

During the investigation into the video scandal, the FIA obtained university and security officials’ laptops and mobile phones, and Saifullah Langove, the head of the security control room, was removed from his post. There is, however, scepticism among digital rights activists on the effectiveness of such surveillance systems and their effects.

Meanwhile, a sexual harassment committee has been set up in the university, headed by Sobiah Ramzan of the Institute of Management Sciences. The local provincial committee is also investigating the affair.

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