The #MeToo movement, that broke the silence around sexual harassment against women, has arrived in Pakistan and is shaking the conservative nation to its core. What first originated in the US against Producer Harvey Weinstein is now gaining traction in a country where 93% of women have faced some form of sexual violence at some point in their lives.
The latest incident occurred when a school student in Bahria College, Islamabad, was allegedly sexually harassed by Sadat Bashir, an external examiner, who was conducting her Biology practical exam.
She narrated the incident on Facebook:
Within a day of the post, several girls from the institution started speaking out anonymously and sharing similar experiences on Facebook:
Testimonies of Other Survivors
- 01/06Survivor details how the examiner harassed girls from the first group, and the ineffectiveness of the school administration(Photo: Facebook Screenshot/ edited for clarity by The Quint)
- 02/06Another tells of the disgust and horror she felt at the sexual advances(Photo: Facebook Screenshot/ edited for clarity by The Quint)
- 03/06This survivor’s trust was betrayed completely by both the examiner and her school, who refused to take a stand(Photo: Facebook Screenshot/ edited for clarity by The Quint)
- 04/06A courageous young woman stands up to the harasser and stops him in her tracks. She speaks up for herself and her classmates(Photo: Facebook Screenshot/ edited for clarity by The Quint)
- 05/06This testimony describes the dread of a girl at observing what was happening to her closest friends without being checked by the teachers from their own school(Photo: Facebook Screenshot/ edited for clarity by The Quint)
- 06/06The examiner was relentless and tried to block the teachers’ access to the lab, but continued to molest the girls even in her presence(Photo: Facebook Screenshot/ edited for clarity by The Quint)
The hashtag #PunishSadatBashir started trending on Twitter ,in Pakistan, and social media reacted strongly in support of the survivor:
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The #MeToo movement in Pakistan was initiated by Meesha Shafi, a singer and actress, accusing musician Ali Zafar, who is well known on both sides of the border, of sexual harassment in a Twitter post in April:
Meesha Shafi's Post Alleging Harassment by Ali Zafar:
This post was followed by similar accusations against the actor-musician by several other women which was covered by the international news media. The reaction that Shafi received was polarising:
However, it is heartening to note that both Shafi and Mahira Khan, the popular Pakistani actress, have expressed their support for the girls that were allegedly harassed at Bahria College.