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LUMS students protest sexist content on Facebook group

April 9, 2019
LUMS students protest sexist content on Facebook group

Facebook: Dania Nasir/Facebook

Women students at the Lahore University of Management Sciences staged a protest outside the Office of Student Affairs on Monday over a sexist Facebook group.

More than 200 students, mostly women, sat outside the office to register their protest and demand that the campus become a safer place for all.

The Facebook group, of mostly men, was sharing content that targeted women at the university with derogatory language, images, commentary and obscenity. The group had six hundred members. It has since been taken down by the university.

Related: Facing online harassment? Pakistan law is on your side

“The memes [on the group] sexualised and objectified women students in the name of dark humour,” said one of the students organizing the protest. “The online forum, through its humour, encouraged both, directly and indirectly, acts of violence against women.”

The students have demanded that the university management take action against the admins of the Facebook group.

“Our goal is not to just punish the perpetrators but to channel efforts towards bringing people into dialogue, creating awareness regarding cyberbullying and rehabilitating the offenders,” the student organizer said.

The protesters said that they want the campus to become “more united” and “safe for all.”

LUMS is an institution that cherishes diversity among its student body, the varsity said in a statement on its website on Tuesday. More than 5,000 students study at the university.

Related: KU students speak out against harassment

A group of students approached the dean of student affairs regarding a social media page where some students belonging to LUMS were sharing offensive, sexist memes, it said.

The students and the dean agreed that this was an unfortunate episode and hoped it would open doors for gender sensitivity on campus, the statement added.

The controversy has, however, elicited a wide range of reactions from the student body.

Some men students have, for example, apologised for being “silent spectators” on the Facebook group. Others have spoken up about being “cornered,” which has caused them mental stress.

The campus has become such an unsafe and toxic place of late, said another student.

Alumni have been speaking against the Facebook group. “I am happy that the women are demanding action,” said an alumnus. “I don’t know what will happen but if half the people say they aren’t comfortable then the admin will have to do anything about it.”

This is not the first time the campus has become embroiled in controversy on women’s rights. There was strong opposition when the university started its first feminist club, FemSoc. And later, when a harassment case was reported against one of the law professors five years ago a similar reaction erupted. Following this case, LUMS devised its sexual harassment policy, however it is not clear if it covers online behaviours. Pakistan’s cybercrime law and the HEC’s harassment policy, however, do.

“I hope the administration takes some concrete actions,” said an ex-student, “unlike, how they have reacted to certain situations in the past.”

The men who were running the group couldn’t be reached for comment. The office of student affairs did not respond to comment either.

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  1. Avatar
      Fahad  April 10, 2019 10:05 am/ Reply

    When we tell you to segregate the men and women, you come back saying it is an attack of women freedom.

  2. Avatar
      Paki  April 10, 2019 10:06 am/ Reply

    This thing will keep coming again and again in different forms. Need to make different campus for women. That is the Islamic way!

  3. Avatar
      Raghu  April 10, 2019 10:08 am/ Reply

    Where are the liberals. This is the western education being taught at your so called prestigious University. You heads must hang in shame!

  4. Avatar
      Latif  April 10, 2019 10:12 am/ Reply

    Thank God this does not happen in Bahria University. They have strict moral codes.

  5. Avatar
      Maria  April 13, 2019 10:04 am/ Reply

    We love lums, things will be better ia

  6. Avatar
      Nabeel Tarrar  April 29, 2019 9:26 pm/ Reply

    girls sitting with boys too closely..Is iit good in Islam?

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