The Usual: ‘Gag it, Don’t Dig at It’!

By Jumana Ghunaimat

تم نشره في Sat 7 January / Jan 2017. 01:00 AM - آخر تعديل في Sun 8 January / Jan 2017. 12:02 AM
  • Jumana Ghunaimat

As usual, many would rather put a lid on the problem instead of addressing it, to save face and retain their reputation.

This is exactly what happened when the administration of the Hashemite University exposed some of the harassments that took place on campus, and decided to discipline a number of its teaching and administrative faculties.

As soon as the stink came out, the battering began of the University’s administration for stirring these cases which would “allegedly” harm the institution’s reputation.

Frankly, any one siding with that point of view, either explicitly or implicitly, is at best a coward; those would rather refrain from addressing an ever so culminating problem, enabled and allowed by dismissal and silence, incurring such violation against our own daughters and undergraduates.

For decades our approach to harassment and cases of the sort was in short “gag it, don’t dig at it”. Why? Well, reasons may vary from retaining institution reputation to “protecting” our own women from defamation, as though they are the only ones defamed by these acts, whereas the men are infallible, shielded by our society in spite of their crimes! That is to say that harassment is more scandalous to women —the victims of the deed— than to men; the offenders!

This societal pattern when it comes to such cases is to say the least deformed and unethical; sick and twisted. This view would rather keep quite on harassment than expose it, leaving the perpetrator of such transgression at large, free to do it again and again, with nothing to hold them back or exact legal justice against them for their crimes!

On the opposite side, what the University’s administration did was bold and brave, because keeping silent on such crimes is as unethical, immoral, and condemned as the crime itself.

Surely, I would say, what was exposed recently at the Hashemite University is not unprecedented; it is just the tip of the iceberg. So many stories are told by female student about being harassed by their teachers, whilst they stood helpless; gagged, suffocating as they whisper —barely— their stories!

Once, here at “AlGhad”, we tried to launch an investigation into the scale of this problem, after having receiving many notes from university teachers, females particularly, on so many violations and transgressions committed against students, by tutors, professors, and teachers, exploiting the young girls’ fear from society and the implications of screaming out!

Despite our efforts, we couldn’t go far due to the scarcity of information and lack of cooperation by university administrations. Some even justified their refusal to cooperate was due to the issue’s sensitivity, since it may reflect negatively on the universities themselves! But what about the students who are being harassed and molested?! Does nobody care about them?!

Teachers are the source of science and the moral example of our society. The fact that some of them are demented and sick should not deter us from triumphing for the victims’ rights by addressing a problem that is only culminating and spreading due to the absence of accountability, either due to the societal presumptions that exposing harassment hurts the victim, or simply because administrations would rather not enforce the law to its full capacity.

Had there been previous instances wherein harassment was pursued and prosecuted, the problem would have receded. Thus, the monumental importance of what the Hashemite University did, launching an investigation, instead of covering it up.

Accordingly, it is only reasonable that other universities follow suit, given they are entrusted with the wellbeing and safety of our students.

Notably, parents also have a role to play in this, because filing complaints here, today, in all honesty, requires a considerable amount of courage. Meanwhile, we need to remember that protecting our girls is the foremost decisive part of our duty as parents!

That said, the biggest weight, and this goes without saying; responsibility, falls on the shoulders of female students, if you’re reading this, to not put lid on it! Command your rights! Harassment is a violation against your very humanity and freedom, and keeping quiet about it is a crime, regardless the reasons behind your silence!

Harassment; verbal or physical, is one of society’s muffled problems, present across a wide variety of institutions, and it is not exclusive to schools or universities.

Whether or not we admit to this, it is because many have kept their mouths shut about it that it is spreading.

So, are we still going to take this kind of inhumane violation of women silently and do nothing about it?!