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May 19, 2016

Probe body gives clean chit to professor


May 19, 2016


A three-member committee of the University of Karachi quashed a sexual harassment compliant filed by a female assistant professor against Professor Sahar Ansari, who is also a famous literary figure, declaring that the evidence she had provided was not enough to prove her allegations.

Dr Navin G Haider of the Pakistan Study Centre had first reported the case to the head of her department, Dr Syed Jaffar Ahmed. But when the case was dropped in just two days, she went to the vice chancellor’s office to formally report about the incident.

She wrote in her complaint that on March 14, Ansari sexually harassed her inside university’s premises. She added that many female students of the Centre had also been sexually harassed by Ansari.

On April 1, a group of students staged a demonstration demanding a proper investigation into the case the issue and termination of the retired professor’s contract as a visiting faculty member.

It was the pressure exerted by the protesting students that the university’s management, which was reluctant to probe into the allegations, formed an investigation committee.

After taking no action for almost a month, KU Registrar Professor Dr Moazzam Ali Khan, on April 14, issued a notification directing Dr Navin to appear before a three-member committee on April 18. The committee comprised Professor Dr Raheela Najam, the convener of the Women Harassment Committee and the chairperson of the Department of Pharmacology; Professor Dr Shakeel Ahmed Khan of the Department of Microbiology; and Professor Dr Seemi Naghmana, the chairperson of the Department of Mass Communication.

The committee was formed as per the Harassment of Women at Workplace Act 2010. A KU official said the committee in its report concluded that Dr Navin had failed to provide any evidence to support her allegations. None of the circumstantial evidence could support her claims.

Quoting the report, the official said none of the students who had participated in the protest told anything about professor’s unethical behaviour and just complained about his teaching methods.

It was also stated in the report that Dr Navin had provoked students to stage a protest.

The committee noted that in statement, Dr Navin felt frustrated that after Dr Jaffar Ahmed’s retirement, his wife Dr Anwar Shaheen might become the next director of the Pakistan Study Centre.

Dr Jaffar Ahmed said Dr Navin should have submitted her complaint in writing to him as it was a basic requirement for launching an inquiry.

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