The entire month of May has seen countless number of school girls come forward on social media and share their incidents of harassment and sexual abuse in the spaces they felt were the safest – their schools. Amidst the entire conversation, another incident came up which has started to raise new alarms.
A Federal Board of Intermediary and Secondary Education invigilator, Sadat Bashir, has been accused of harassing more than 80 girls while they were taking their Biology practical exam.
In a shocking post, one of the victims, Saba Ali, a student of Bahria College Islamabad, shared how the invigilator went on to inappropriately touch and grope all of the female students who were there for their board exam and threatened to deduct their marks in case someone tried to speak up.
My biology practical was held on 24th May 2018, I was in the first batch of the bio practical. I came to school at 8.00…
The batch was warned beforehand about the nature of the invigilator, but many brushed it off as a rumor.
When the students had to go in the lab, they were simply taken aback by the fact that their teacher wasn’t allowed to accompany them in, and had to demand to be let in.
Saba, in her post, described in detail how they were treated inside the lab,
“He groped almost 80 students and passed sleazy comments. He groped me twice, once when I went for the model recognition, he touched my butt and second when I was making the slides. He came behind me and traced my bra strap all the while pretending he was just examining my slide.
After that, when I was doing my frog dissection he came up to me and asked what kind of a frog it was. I got extremely nervous and told him it was a male frog to which he very inappropriately replied “It’s a female frog can’t you see the ovaries, you have them inside you too!” All of this made me extremely uncomfortable and I had no idea what to do. None of us said anything to him because he kept threatening to deduct our marks.”
Following Saba’s post, many students came forward to share their own narratives of the story.
Zohaa Muneeb, who was with Saba at the time of the incident, shared that after the incident took place, the students made a Facebook group and decided to go to college the next day and talk to the principal. Some of the students were hesitant because apparently Sadat Bashir had threatened to fail them in their physics practical which had yet to take place later if they spoke against him.
“The next day Saba and I went to Bahria only to find out that none of them had shown up which only shows the “chup raho” stigma deeply rooted in our society. Most of the girls were too scared to open up, those who were willing did not have family support. Whatever the reason those girls did not feel safe enough to show up yesterday. After some time 2 more students showed up and one of them had her mother with her. We waited for some time but when no one else showed up we finally went to talk to the principal ourselves.”
The principal only talked to the mothers who came along while sending the students outside, and assured that the college will file a complaint to blacklist the invigilator in question,
“Talking to the students who actually faced this made him uncomfortable but he did not stop once to think about how uncomfortable those students must have felt when they were touched against their will! He didn’t even have the courage to listen to what happened from the students themselves! He just told the mothers that a letter is being written and that they will blacklist Sadat Bashir.”
The students also learned through the Vice Principal that even a teacher was harassed by the invigilator.
Zohaa further shared,
“Her attitude was a lot more encouraging than the principal. She told us that she had not been aware of the incident until yesterday and that the students should have come directly to her. She even said, “beta, usne tou aap ki teacher tak ko nahi chora. You guys were obviously the easy targets.” Yes, that’s right. He didn’t even spare the teacher.”
Many came out anonymously to share their incidents from the same day. What was common in all of the narrations was the fact that the students were asked to stay silent because of their marks.
There were a few students who decided to speak up, only to find the invigilator openly threatening them and calling them “badtameez”. Despite complaining to the authorities, the students found that Sadat Bashir was still invigilating exams afterwards, and continuing with his usual inappropriate activities.
Others came forward with the facts that many a times, their teachers also gave in to his misdemeanor and turned a blind eye towards whatever was happening just because he was capable of failing the entire batch of students.
Confessions of the victims. 18 testimonies so far. pic.twitter.com/WdnfqpAtXS
— #PunishSadatBashir (@OfficiallyAlsa) May 29, 2018
Ex-students from various universities also shared their incidents with the same man which happened years ago…
Soon after these brave girls came out, people rallied in support of them and called for the institutions to take a strict action against the predator.
On Twitter, under the hashtag #PunishSadatBashir, scores of people expressed their disappointment and called for not just the dismissal of Sadat, but also for the schools to form unions and student bodies to help prevent and address such situations.
To everyone who claims to be an ally of the feminist cause, parents, brothers, sisters, teachers, all supporters of the #MeToo & #TimesUp movements, concerned citizens, please read this thread:
The time for action is now. #PunishSadatBashir https://t.co/nbFVpbuvfO
— Osman Khalid Butt (@aClockworkObi) May 29, 2018
They praised the bravery of the students for coming out and demanded that Bahria College takes immediate action.
All strength and power to this brave sister for sharing her disgusting and alarming experience. #BahriaCollege kindly take immediate action. We are all watching and we are all waiting! #TimesUp https://t.co/lMdAVm5Csz
— MEESHA SHAFI (@itsmeeshashafi) May 29, 2018
Mawra Hocane, who is an alumna of the college, also shared her two cents:
My heart is broken, what happened to childhood ? I’ve studied from the same school & we used to be so safe. #BahriaCollegeIslamabad must take action against #SadatBashir #Timesup https://t.co/Mz55cevYbm
P.s Thankyou @itsmeeshashafi ???? pic.twitter.com/vJ0tDkUgBi
— MAWRA HOCANE (@MawraHocane) May 29, 2018
These students are also being helped by professionals in filing a legal investigation into the matter
please share the individuals details here. Will try to take to Federal Directorate of Education. You shared details of HEC while its directly under the FDE
— Raza Sukhera (@RazaAhmedSukher) May 29, 2018
It’s rather unfortunate to see how some men feel they’re entitled to do whatever they want and exploit people when they’re in a position of power. While the bravery of one forced others to break their silence, the inherent culture of remaining silent and not exposing these predators has led them get away for so long. It’s time that men like Sadat Bashir are brought to light and are punished for their actions – so that our students are safe in their homes and in the schools.
What do you think about the incident? Let us know in the comments.
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