It is very disappointing to learn that 10 years into the HC directive to form sexual harassment complaint committees at every educational institution and workplace, only 40 percent schools have complied. What is more, the institutions which have the committees have not been able to make them functional. And in many cases, students are not even aware that such committees exist. In the meantime, incidents of sexual harassment in schools, colleges and madrasas are on the rise. Reportedly, in many cases, the predators are none but the headmasters and principals themselves.
In the wake of such a situation, it is absolutely necessary to have such committees at all educational institutions, as these committees are supposed to be empowered enough to deal with the complaints of sexual harassment, conduct investigations and make recommendations. And in the absence of such a cell, students will not have any other way to lodge complaints in case they face any form of sexual harassment. The delay in forming the cells only means that the school or college authorities have not taken the issue seriously. While many institutions believe that if such complaints become public, it will harm the reputation of the institution, others are simply unaware of the HC order, mostly the institutions in remote areas.
After the brutal killing of Nusrat Jahan Rafi, the Directorate of Secondary and Higher Education (DSHE) has once again directed the educational institutions to form such committees, and we hope that this time most of the institutions will comply. And the government has to play an active role in forming the committees and monitoring their activities. Forming such cells would not only ensure our children’s safety but also help change our society’s attitude towards sexual violence.