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Universities and Sexism: Why Are Higher Education Institutes Threatened By Women?

Although one can get into a lengthy debate over how we’re forced to buy ourselves a degree to prove our worth to the corporate sector so they may force us into corporate slavery, we must acknowledge that even getting a degree is difficult for females, not to mention how the education system discriminates against the Trans folk.

From wage gaps to sexual harassment in workplaces, turns out women can’t even find equality in universities that claim to educate and prepare them for their professional lives. Why is it that the very institutions that should be teaching their students everything they’ve never learned about equality are the ones that are imposing unfair rules and regulations that only go on to prove what feminists have been saying until their throats have gone numb: the entire status quo is governed by patriarchal values which will always limit women from reaching any semblance of equality no matter where they go.

Here are some of Pakistan’s universities that impose the aforementioned restrictions on women:

National University of Science and Technology (NUST)

 

If it wasn’t clear from the country’s reaction when Pakistani Actress, Mahira Khan decided to light up a cigarette in public and was photographed – a photograph that was extensively circulated so every Pakistani man could have a heart attack at the dishonor they faced – it was made clear by one of the nation’s best universities that smoking is only meant for the bright young minds of men. Clearly, women must not be allotted the freedom to inhale smoke because once again, NUST proved that people will always try to control women and this time, through rules that make no sense at all.

A notice was issued in NUST which affirmed the establishment of smoking zones in the universities, but here’s the catch: Women are not only prohibited to entering, they will also be charged one thousand rupees in fine, in addition to a call back home to the parents, informing them of this grave happenstance. This gender discriminatory move isn’t helping anyone least of all NUST.

For a university that is ranked among the top one hundred universities of Asia, that’s not at all progressive.

Moreover, do universities in Pakistan not realize that all students enrolled are adults, and don’t require their parents watching their every move? How will a person grow if they are confined to the same mindset, and not allowed to make their own decisions, learn from those decisions and evolve into something better?

Ghulam Ishaq Khan Institute of Engineering Sciences and Technology (GIKI)

Since the imposition of curfew does not at all limit a person’s freedom and have them suffocating for a taste of life, the GIKI administration decided to throw in a new twist at the usual curfews that are observed in universities for students living on campus. A university with a clear majority of men studying there decided to impose an 11 PM curfew…for the female residents. The male residents don’t even have a curfew.

Does that sound like something one of Pakistan’s biggest and coveted universities – which charge enough to imply that notion too – would do?

Judging by the aforementioned, there does seem to be a trend in discriminatory rules, so yes, they would do that and they did do that. Despite students raising their concerns over this obvious malpractice, the administration does not blink an eye.

Interestingly enough, GIKI has proven that women in Pakistan (or the world) will never be able to safely walk the streets of their cities or be allowed to do that because of men. Interestingly enough, we haven’t heard much from the university about sexual harassment policies; because why would they need those when they’ve decided to lock the females away when the males get to do as they please.

Oh, didn’t we mention this? In many of the residential areas, for example, the one above the Medical Centre, the doors are locked from the inside. This ensures that women don’t break out of the dorms, which is concerning in case of fires if they don’t have fire escapes. Furthermore, how is that men have always been given leeway to roam around doing whatever, whereas women are the ones who are forced to compromise?

Doesn’t this curfew enforce the idea that women are responsible for whatever happens to them at the hands of men, in this case, because they were at the wrong place?

How is this any different than asking girls what they were doing at a certain place, and telling them it is their fault for having been there in the first place? Although we don’t endorse the presence of curfews, if one was to be imposed, it should’ve been the same for everyone, not just a certain gender.

As for rumors about people getting caught having sex which led to the curfew, grow up; but that’ll be difficult to do in a country without any semblance of sex education, something considered taboo.

Bahria University

Ah, our personal favorite in today’s list would have to be Bahria University, yet another top university, ( do we see a trend here?) that has decided to make life more miserable for its female students in particular. On their website, the following dress code is mentioned for women:

  • Shalwar Qameez. (No sleeveless)
  • Hijab, Abaya, Chaddar
  • Full-length Jeans/trousers with long shirt/Kurta [Knee length] (No Tights)
  • Light Jewelry & light make up
  • Shoes, Sandals & Joggers
  • Dupatta/Scarf compulsory with all dresses

Any female student in violation of the above-stated code faces a written warning, a fine of five thousand rupees, and then not allowed entrance, in said order. As we can see, there is an insane amount of control the university has over women’s clothes.

What harm does Bahria think sleeveless shirts pose to the environment, especially when it gets hot and humid in the country’s soul melting summers? Making a dupatta or scarf mandatory is only proving that the administration believes women should not wear what they want and take away their right to dress as they please. This dress code is not just in violation of basic human rights, it also brings to the spotlight the need to have dress codes – mostly, specifically aimed towards women – at all.

If that wasn’t enough, a six-inch distance between men and women must be maintained because it is forbidden for them to touch each other, but this rule was later revoked.

However, they didn’t let that stop them, no. They decided to assure the compliance of students by telling them it’s “better to be safe than sorry,” implying, what exactly? Those women are responsible for being harassed due to what they wear? We’d love for some clarification from the university. A more recent imposition has been brought to light by the students of Bahria, who’ve to take to Twitter and Facebook to express their frustration at university policies:

Clearly, allotting only one cafeteria to women and three to the men, where the female entrance is strictly prohibited wasn’t enough for the administration.

We’ll have to wait until the education system begins teaching men to control their “urges,” rather than forcing women – who have already fought hard enough to leave their homes to educate themselves – to “dress accordingly,” or stay locked inside, or not smoke in case of damage to both lungs and character.

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