Harassment of female faculty member: University of Okara puts three male professors under observation for period of one year

Jahangir Hayat

LAHORE: The University of Okara has put three of its male faculty members of the Education Department under observation for a period of one year for allegedly harassing one of their female colleague, daily The Business has learnt.
Sources on Sunday said that the decision was made on the recommendations of a Fact-Finding Committee (FFC) reconstituted by the university to probe the allegations leveled by the senior female faculty members against her male colleagues.
According to a notification issued by the Deputy Registrar (Academics), three faculty members who were put under observation for the period of one year included Associate Professor Dr Khalid Saleem, Associate Professor Dr Tahir Khan Farooqi and Assistant Professor Dr Shehzad Ahmed.
The notification revealed the mechanism for the monitoring of the conduct of all three nominated faculty members with regard to the complainant would be notified subsequently.
The complainant alleged that she had to face insulting comments, harsh language and above all bad attitude almost in every meeting. She also had to face her colleagues who used derogatory language, whenever the complainant passed through them. The complainant had also been threatened in various forms and ways, she explained in complaint.
According to a written complaint, the complainant had been facing a lot of mental stress due to the abusive language, insulting comments and inappropriate attitude for the last two months besides the use of derogatory languages and the gesture from the male professors.
She stated that she was harassed on many occasions where the male professors used abusive language and shouted over her in a number of meetings.
Vice-Chancellor of University of Okara Dr Zakria Zaker had constituted a 13-member committee, headed by Associate Prof of CS & IT Dr Riaz Ul Amin to probe into the matter against the complaint filed to VC Office on dated 20 June 2020 by a senior female faculty member, wherein the faculty members were accused of using abusive language and harassed her. The committee comprised over four associate professors including convener, seven assistant professors and two lectures.
However, sources said that the committee was reconstituted on June 28, 2020, as the earlier made committee head declined to be the head of the committee furthermore to avoid conflict of interest as he and the complaint had earned their PhD from the same university. After that, the university had replaced him with the new head of committee Dr Ghulam Mustafa Associate Prof of Department of Chemistry.
The reconstituted Fact-Finding Committee recommended that the department in general and accused in particular will remain under observation for the period of one year.
The committee recommended that competent authority will take a periodic review of the conduct of the accused professors while review may be presented to the same committee or the authority may constitute a new committee to review the conduct of the faculty in the department of the education.
The committee further recommended a complete ban of six months of any communication using any media for both parties.
The committee recommended that both the parties would participate in all the departmental and faculty level meetings with the prior approval of the competent authority while a third person would submit report the conduct of both the sides during the meetings.
Furthermore, the committee also recommended a ban restricting both sides from having any communication with the media for the six months.
The committee also recommended protection of the complainant besides seeking arrangements of holding professional counseling regarding the workplace Harassment Act 2010.
Moreover, the committee also recommended the immediate transfer of supporting staff from the department of education as there were some allegations of supporting grouping in the department.
“The committee didn’t recommend further formal inquiry under workplace harassment Act 2010, however in future if any further such incident with evidence of substance occurs and the application or complaint is submitted, the recommendations will be made part of the process;” the committee suggested.

Published in The Business, July 27th, 2020

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