The time is up for authority figures at schools and educational institutions who misused their position to harass female students, as allegations on social media picked steam and caused outrage. Some of the gravest allegations have been levelled against male teachers at the 1A1 branch of the Lahore Grammar School, accused of sending objectionable pictures and messages to at least eight female teenage students, with the students attaching screenshots of private pictures and texts as evidence. The school administration has also been accused of allegedly covering up the harassment and levelling blame on the students instead. After the allegations were made public, the school fired the four employees but the question remains: is it too little too late?

It is important that this should not be seen as a one-off incident and that the alleged harassers not be viewed as the sole culprits. If anything, these recent events have shown the systematic way that abuse of power and a culture of harassment is perpetuated in schools and educational institutions. School administrations should receive a heavy share of the outrage as well—complaints against the offenders had been brought to the administration, with those in charge choosing to partake in blaming and policing the victims than taking action against the perpetrators.

The lacklustre attitude towards harassment by school boards calls for introspection into our society’s approach towards sexual abuse, which leans towards covering up the incident and blaming women, rather than seeking accountability. The problem is that it is this scrutiny that is lacking which leads to a rise in abuse. We don’t talk about it, we don’t believe the victims and cases get swept under the carpet. Parents and teachers alike advocate for changing the students’ behaviour than that of authority figures. This approach is disastrous and will continue to maintain an environment of abuse and harassment. Civil society and the government needs to ensure that educational institutions formulate a strict and unambiguous anti-harassment policy and adhere to it.