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Published:March 31st, 2010 21:18 EST
Women`s Exploitation in Peshawar University: Who is to Blame?

Women`s Exploitation in Peshawar University: Who is to Blame?

By Ernest Dempsey



The Midweek Special edition of the esteemed Urdu daily Mashriq, dated March 03, 2010, featured an open letter from a female student of the University of Peshawar. Submitted anonymously, the letter was subtitled The First-Hand Account of Love Stories as Witnessed in the Green Gardens of the University , and it documented a case against the sexual/emotional exploitation of female students at the University of Peshawar.


The letter briefly mentioned the "horrible character` of teachers who are supposed to be angels but at the said university, they keep an evil eye on their own students. Then it described some cases of flirting and deceptive love affairs that ensnared the innocent girl students at the institution; girls who were left heartbroken by the flirting male students and some even getting pregnant, seeking abortion, and attempting suicide. The letter spewed the blame entirely on male students, and men at large, while also reminding that such acts are being committed by Pakhtoons. Quite a case here!


While serving in the university, I did hear about such instances in which teachers and male students have been involved in exploiting female students. There is reason to believe that such stories do hold at least some truth, if not entirely true to the minutest details. Yet, putting the blame entirely on men seems a jaundiced view of the issue, for it hardly seems possible to exploit a woman of strong character. And there is strong reason to believe that in a number of cases, female students actively indulge in "hunting` men for personal gain.


The majority of students in general, and most female students, in particular, are known in educational institutions to get favors from teachers by indulging in flattery and tail-wagging. In case of female students, male teachers often expect some romantic/sexual intimacy " mo matter how faked. In the letter mentioned above, the writer does not mention that many female students themselves invite and/or encourage teachers` interest of intimacy in order to get a higher score on tests and getting higher grades as well as favorable references for career development. Teachers are to blame here but equally guilty of moral collapse are such girls; those who later consider wailing a sole privilege of their gender after something goes wrong.


The case of having affairs with fellow male students runs along the same lines. Girls encourage the advances of guys, receive gifts, and go out with them without considering that what they are going through is nothing beyond flirt. It is common knowledge among the university students that many female students can`t resist invitations from guys with cars. That is why so many guys use to drive around on roads inside the campus in rented cars. Even in strict cultural morals as ours, some girls still go to hotels with such guys (as mentioned in the letter from the female student). But upon getting pregnant, or heart-broken, they don`t spare a moment in throwing the entire fault on men.


While sympathizing with the respected female student, the writer of the said letter, I feel that women are equally to blame for the sufferings they face in the aftermath of emotional intimacy with men on campus. There are cases of women of strong character who choose to quit education instead of giving themselves over into the hands of perverts. As for the complaint that Pakhtoons are victimizing women in Peshawar University, it is a grossly generalized statement. Such cases are prevalent in all cultures and subcultures. To the best of this writer`s knowledge, Pakhtoons are, on the whole, less tolerant of such moral degradation than other cultures. Our women need to redefine their priorities and keep their ethical switches on while interacting with men.