The hot topic in the country, ever since the #MeToo movement kicked off globally, is indeed, harassment. Finally, the laywoman is talking about a sensitive topic that had long been suppressed by our patriarchal society.
Ever since the CEO of Patari was exposed on Twitter by users who he had tried to morph to his benefit, a domino effect of sorts has begun. After the mass expose on Twitter, it was heartthrob Meesha Shafi who leveled allegations against rock-star Ali Zafar, stating that she too, had been harassed by the singer on different occasions.
Meesha’s confidence and guts to expose one of Pakistan’s biggest names brought strength to many other girls in the country. Recently, a student from Cedar College Karachi exposed one of her classmates, who had been harassing her and other girls, touching them inappropriately.
As they say, once the domino falls, it takes hundreds with it. The latest revelation in the #MeToo and #TimesUp movement comes from one of Pakistan’s most renowned private schools, The City School. A girl from Karachi’s PAF Chapter shared her story of how different faculty teachers harassed her and other girls when they were in O-levels.
“1. My Physics teacher in my second year of olevels, Sir Naveed, was someone who was known mostly for making a few corny jokes, most of those jokes were directed at the girls in his classes and it felt like he was masking a lot of misogyny which came to show. He would very often hover too close, brush his hand against me and stared at me in such a creepy way that I started wrapping myself with my dupatta in his classes. Once after a lecture when I finally understood a concept he tried to go for a hug and I immediately backed up and left the room. After I was done with his classes he would find me in the halls and say hi, start conversations acting like we were great friends when we were not. He kept trying to get super close and make contact when I did not want to. When I got to alevels he started sending me friend requests on facebook, which I declined only to get another one a month or so later. Eventually I was getting a friend request every single week. I’ve had to block him.”
The girl presented 4 cases of how different teachers had tried taking advantage of her, and would often, gaslight her into believing that it was her mistake and ‘negligence’ not theirs. Creating an environment of misunderstanding, the culprits often took advantage of girls through this manner.
Once the word was out, Nida, who finally spoke out against teachers who get too close without warrant, other girls started sharing their stories with Nida as well.
“So in AS, there was a chemistry teacher, Sir Rahat Rizvi. In a class full of people, I asked him to help me out doing MCQs. He came to my desk and was standing oddly too close. I felt uncomfortable and so pushed back and glued myself to my chair. He took my pencil and began writing on my paper, and was too close to my chest. I became even more uncomfortable because being a male teacher, you MUST maintain a distance, that too near such a sensitive part of a girl’s body. Nevertheless, his hand pushed against my chest and he had absolutely no reaction. I was in shock. I led myself to believe, in that moment, that it was an accident, but he would’ve apologised had it been an accident. He did not. I’ve felt uncomfortable ever since then, to be in his class. I felt that he looked at girls in the wrong places as well. It’s disturbing, to this day, considering he’s a well-known A Levels teacher, and not to mention, has a young daughter as well.”
“This happened to me in The City School, PAF Chapter, it was 10th grade, and the year end. It was the Islamiat mock and our invigilator was Sir Aslam. Bearded man, seemingly quite religious. He was signing all the exam scripts at the beginning of the paper, and when he came over to my desk, as I was shifting the paper towards him so he could sign easily, he quickly put his entire upper arm against my chest and signed it before I could finish. I was too much in shock as to wtf just happened and before I could even say something, the pervert was gone onto the next desk.”
The complete posts can be read on Nida’s personal Facebook profile which have been embedded in this article.
The #MeToo #TimesUp Movement keeps on growing in Pakistan and girls are now braver than ever while confronting their harassers. Thanks to people like Nighat Dad, Meesha Shafi and all the girls who have since spoken out against harassment, a new level of awareness is settling in.