The foundations of trust in academia have been shaken by a scandal of extortion, drug trafficking and sexual harassment of unimaginable scale in the hallowed halls of the Islamic University Bawalpur (IUB).
A staggering 5,500 videos have come to light, revealing an exploitative nightmare in which schoolgirls fall victim to the most heinous forms of abuse, it is claimed. Shockingly, even the chief security officer is said to be involved in the scandal, calling for a thorough investigation into the corrupt and depraved network.
The executive chancellor is to be commended for ordering the creation of judicial committees and anti-harassment teams at every university, led by female professors. As we deal with the gravity of the situation, it is critical to respond quickly and thoughtfully. We must learn from past examples around the world to ensure a fair, transparent and safe educational environment.
It may be shocking, but similar events have happened in the first world. Former Michigan State University doctor Larry Nassar has been convicted of sexually abusing hundreds of female athletes under the guise of medical treatment. The scandal erupted in 2016 and Nassar was sentenced to 60 years in prison.
Victims were awarded a total of $380 million in compensation. The university has been criticized for its handling of complaints and has taken steps to improve its reporting and accountability processes.
Pakistan must implement comprehensive laws protecting students from sexual harassment and exploitation. The 2013 Amendment to Section 354 of the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC) criminalizes the recording of sex videos and should be strictly enforced. Additionally, Section 21(d) of the Prevention of Electronic Crime Act (PECA) of 2016 requires the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) to actively investigate. Criminals who use information systems to induce others to engage in sexually explicit acts for the purpose of harming, blackmailing or creating hatred should be fully and severely punished by the law.