The Institute of Business Administration (IBA) in Karachi expelled its student for highlighting an alleged harassment incident with a female staff member. According to the reports, Mohammad Gibrail witnessed a male employee at the supervisor level harassing a female employee in Finance Department on August 25. The witness published the incident on social media after which IBA Karachi expelled him. Netizens started to protest the decision and termed IBA’s actions as a gross overreaction. They called for the decision to be reversed immediately as those speaking against harassment must be rewarded rather than punished.
The campus explained on social media that it expelled Gibrail because he did not report the incident through proper channels and “defamed” them. However, it was not acceptable for the public who pushed back with strong criticism.
IBA Karachi Sending a Wrong Message by Expulsion
Gibrail’s lawyer and activist Mohammad Jibran Nasir said that IBA Karachi has only damaged its reputation by expelling students for exposing women’s harassment inside the campus. It meant that the University sent an awful message that it will silence anyone who ever spoke against such behavior. He further mentioned that exposing harassment was a public service so the University was teaching its students to look away whenever they see something wrong happening. On paper, IBA Karachi is considered one of the most prestigious institutes in Pakistan. Therefore preserving a hostile work environment for women raised a loud alarm.
One female student said that this was exactly the kind of decision that enable harassers to do anything they want with women.
The University Claims to Encourage Student in Speaking Out
A lot of students stood up in protest but Jibran Nasir feared that they could also face action by the institute just like Gibrail did. The lawyer also shared how at one point the University encouraged students to form an opinion and on the other, it expelled them for doing the same. He specifically mentioned the Executive Director of IBA who lectured and wrote about the need for student unions and progressive politics but when he came at the authoritative position, he decided to silence the very voice rising against injustice.
According to reports, Gibrail also filed an official complaint with the victim as the witness. The institute claimed in a statement that the IBA community “counseled” Gibrail about all the “right channels” that were expected to be followed by all IBA members but the student violated its rules by taking the issue to social media.
Whistleblower Refuses to Apologize
In his defense, Gibrail said that he was aware of the dark future ahead but could not apologize for exposing a heinous crime within the workplace. Lawyers suggested that the witness can appeal against the disciplinary committee that has been formed against him. He could approach the Sindh High Court and challenge the credibility of such a committee. It is because the witness took action as a responsible citizen without any personal interest so disciplinary action for someone performing civic duty did not make sense.
How the Institute is Treating Harassment Case?
Giving further details, Jibran Nasir also reported that IBA Karachi accused the witness of posting the alleged harasser’s picture on social media and endangering his life. On the other hand, it remained silent when a woman staff member’s security was in danger. Jibran also reported that the victim filed her complaint a month ago and still did not receive a formal response. However, a formal response quickly came against the student who exposed the harassment publicly. Furthermore, the Anti-Harassment committee told the victim that they will “deal with Gibrail” and she should bring another eyewitness. After that Gibrail was expelled.
Reports also revealed that Gibrail had sent a formal email as well while he was publishing on social media. However, IBA Karachi did not call an inquiry committee based on the email and quickly formed a disciplinary committee for the post on social media.
Cases of sexual harassment in educational institutes are a matter of great concern and the protection for harassers by higher authorities is even more concerning. Once there were reports of a highly chronic problem of sexual harassment in Lahore Grammer School, which was tackled by female students.