This Is Not The First Time NUST Has Covered Up Rape Allegations
Safety of women on campuses has always been a question popping in my mind throughout my journey of seeking education. In my graduation years I was first hand victim of harassment by a male professor (notorious in university for asking undue favours from female students) and even after 3 years, I know that if I call him out and drag him in court, not even a handful of my department mates would stand by me. I tried to consult the harassment committee as well but it was of no use. This all happened in a public university in South Punjab and the conditions for female students in private universities are no different.
The harassment cases in Balochistan University went viral on social media but in the end female students were the one who faced backlash, a couple of them had to leave their studies because their parents refused to send them to a university which was not safe for them.
NUST, Islamabad is currently under fire after a Twitter user @ManalKhan0 shared a report regarding alleged rape in the university premises and how the administration is brushing the allegation under the carpet. She didn’t mention the name of said university but social media users got to know about it by the hints given in the Twitter thread.
There has been a terrifying report about a sexual assault of a student on the premises of a campus at one of the biggest universities in #Islamabad.
The building was inaugurated this month, and the administration is trying to bury the matter by silencing the students who are+
— nuwanda (@ManalKhan0) December 24, 2019
A source on condition of anonymity told, “Last week, inside the H12 campus of National University of Science and Technology (NUST), a girl was raped behind the newly constructed building of National Science and Technology Park (NSTP). The building was inaugurated on 09 Dec by Imran Khan. The building is situated right behind girl’s hostels. Allegedly, a construction worker raped a student who happened to be there alone. The administration has been trying to cover up the incident and students are not allowed to talk about it on social media. NUST has a strict policy whereby it bars students from sharing any kind of inside information against the university. This is not the first time the university has tried to cover up a rape case. Last year in summer, a girl was sexually assaulted near the School of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science (SEECS). The case was covered up the same way.”
Within no time, there were reactions on this thread and two distinct trends were seen. One group of people were calling out the university administration and demanding a fair inquiry into the matter while the other were defending the university and asking for proofs and calling it a propaganda against an institute which is administered by those-who-should-not-be-named. Once again victim blaming started and people who were raising their concerns were asked absurd questions like “Did you see the incident happening?, “Who is funding you for this propaganda?”, “Where is the victim?”, “Why this is not on mainstream media?”, etc.
Here I would like to remind people that a couple of months ago a student died due to negligence of the administration of this university and her parents were pressurized into withdrawing the case. The same university has previously hunted down students on social media accounts for calling it out regarding different incidents and now students are afraid to come out publicly.
Twitter user @OmarA_007 shared an incident from 2003 when he was a student there and university administration covered up a case regarding drugs in NUST because sons of high profile people were involved in it.
NUST has always covered up this sort of thing. From what I can remember, back in 2003, BBA students Mubashir Fida, Junaid Khan, Khalid Saleem Cheema (IG Pindi's son), Owais Ehsan (DG ISI's son), Anis Sajid & Asad Ikram Cheema were caught in a police raid at the NBS Hostel.
— Omar Ahmad (007) 🍸 (@OmarA_007) December 24, 2019
Meanwhile, the statement issued by official twitter handle of NUST declared this a fake story. It appeared as if they were more interested about the reputation of the university than the case itself.
What kind of a person makes fabricated rape accusations?
Let’s start with the thought-provoking fact that false rape allegations ruin lives, reputations and futures. Indeed, propagating such incorrect news is the most horrendous and shameless of acts. (1/4)
— NUST (@Official_NUST) December 24, 2019
We are living in a country where teachers like Junaid Hafeez are forced to stay in solitary confinement for 6 years because of departmental politics, where students like Mashal Khan are brutally murdered due to fake blasphemy charges just because they raised voice against corrupt practices in their campus, where lecturers like Ammar Ali Jan face criminal charges for protesting in favour of students, where a college professor is killed by his student for arranging a farewell party. A civil servant in Attock is made to apologize for making a statement in favour of minorities and has to give proofs regarding her religious beliefs just to save her life.
Even after anti-harassment laws being passed in our country, there is a big question on implementation and fair trial in such cases. The demands in Students Solidarity March, held nationwide on November 29th, included committees in every university as per harassment law and due representation of students in it. We as a nation love to bash India but as far as student unions and politics is concerned, in my humble opinion, we should learn from them and raise voice against atrocities in our own campuses without the fear of being detained or harassed by our university administration.
The author is a graduate of IBA’s Centre for Excellence in Journalism.