Wednesday December 08, 2021

Perseverance of harassment victim paid off after seven years

June 18, 2021

A female lecturer who became the victim of online harassment by her former colleague has expressed dissatisfaction at the sentence handed down to the perpetrator, saying that the penalty was not enough as she suffered for seven years.

On Wednesday, a District East sessions court announced a total sentence of eight years for University of Karachi (KU) Assistant Professor Dr Farhan Kamrani who was convicted of making and sharing fake nudes of the victim. The court also imposed a fine of Rs1.1 million

on him.

She said that being a lecturer, she had to endure severe difficulties for seven years but a lesser punishment was handed down to the convict on grounds that he belonged to a noble profession.

“I suffered difficulties, mental stress and financial problems for almost seven years to get justice,” the victim said as she shared her ordeal with The News. She remarked that she would have completed two PhDs during the time she spent struggling for justice. “I couldn’t complete my doctorate degree because of the court case,” she said.

The lecturer, however, was happy that the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) traced the harasser, who was a highly qualified person and serving as an assistant professor at a public sector university. “I had no knowledge of who was making my fake nudes and sharing those photos with my students and other colleagues. When I was informed by my students and employers, I filed a complaint against an unidentified person,” she said.

When the female lecturer was filing her complaint, she had no idea where the office of the Federal Investigation Agency’s (FIA) cybercrime wing was located. Her employers, however, came forward and helped her register a complaint against the unidentified person. “I merely wanted to stop the campaign against me on social media. But even after registration of several complaints, the harasser took the matter to a next level.”

Speaking about her misery, she said, “After seeing my fake photos and videos on social media I was facing traumatic stress that almost shattered my sense of security. I was feeling helpless and vulnerable. I was thinking that if my family and especially my husband came to know, what they would think of my character. I was unable to talk to my family and husband. My mind was completely blank.”

Later, the FIA traced the IP address and location of the suspect. Only when the cybercrime wing of the agency arrested the suspect, she came to know that her harasser was her former colleague Dr Kamrani.

They both had worked together at the Special Security Unit (SSU) of the Sindh police. The victim at that time was a media coordinator at the SSU where the convict had been hired as a psychiatric trainer for newly-recruited cops.

“There was no direct interaction between me and Dr Kamrani,” the victim said, adding that however, when he was arrested, he concocted a story to tell to the investigators. “He claimed that I was in love with him and I had promised to marry him, but then I cheated him. This entire story was a blatant lie,” the victim said.

“I kept on running from pillar to post in courts and in offices of law enforcers continuously for seven years just to prove that I had never been in love or a close relationship with Dr Kamrani. I may never be able to explain the trauma, the anguish I have been through because my fake nudes were circulated on social media for nothing,” she said.

According to the court documents, during the FIA investigation, the convict admitted to his crime of making edited porn photos of the victim. He tried to tender an apology and prayed for mercy but got no response from the complainant.

The lecturer said that later, some of his peers came to her house and one of them raised his shirt showing a pistol to her children to intimidate them. After such tactics did not work and she refused to budge, a page titled ‘Stand with Farhan Kamrani’ was made on the internet, on which his students and supporters launched a campaign against her, calling her a Chalbaz Aurat (swindle female).

The victim had to register another FIR against the page, after which a message was posted there which read that she had come to know about the page and lodged a complaint against it, due to which the activities on the page would be suspended for a certain period.

However, after a month, another internet group named the Secret Group was created with the same stuff to malign her. She said the campaign initiated by Dr Kamrani’s friend, relatives and family members against her continued even when the case was being heard in court.

“Just for the last two days, I’m feeling free. In the last many years, they would create groups and pages, and I would file complaints over complaints. At the same time I was dealing with court cases,” she said.

Although she achieved the conviction of her harasser, she is not satisfied with the penalty. She said she was not happy after reading the decision in which it is stated that the accused belongs to a noble profession.

Dr Kamrani has been sentenced to a total of eight years in jail with a total fine of Rs1.1million. However, he would benefit from the Section 382-B of the Code of the Criminal Procedure, under which the period of detention before conviction is counted as part of jail sentence.

The victim, however, stated that women must come forward against such harassers. “I know it’s not an easy job. Seeking justice with patience is really a serious task. But preferring silence over justice means to be a part of the crime,” she said, adding that she would not like her case to be interpreted as a victory of a female over a male. “I’m not against all men. If this had been done by a woman, I would have also gone to courts against her,” she remarked.