The compulsory retirement of nine lecturers from College of Language and Culture Studies on grounds of sexual harassment is like a slap on the face of the institution of education in the country.
And it’s a very hard one, too.
Where have we gone wrong, the question springs. Bhutan is not a conservative society as far as sex and sexual wiles are concerned. In fact, men have the alpha-male make up that the more women one sleeps around with, the better image he projects of his manliness. Women are not blushing brides too. Live in relationships, promiscuity and one night stands are norms of the day.
Which is why, when such news crop up, we would be little surprised that such a situation arose. The Bhutanese society has failed to nip the evil in the bud. Not only has this been a hard knock on morality, it is a shameful reminder of the fact that we have failed in the upbringing and grooming of men (also teachers) to honor and protect the women folk of our day.
Protectors have turned predators. It’s sad, even awful. And it’s by far a lesson. Parents and teachers must lead the way. They must teach the young principles and values. It all goes back to upbringing and childhood. Children must learn to keep boundaries-they must understand the difference between friendships and illicit relationships. They must know the importance of respecting women like sisters and mothers.
If we look at the behavior of children in school, there are very large chances that girls are eve-teased. This is again a preview of what is to come. Respect and only respect will prevent this early on signs and indoctrination of men that women are no more than sexual creatures.
Also, the fact that this happened in a premier education institute is again a failure on the part of the authorities to maintain a safety net. It is failure to protect the vulnerable section of students. What example are we setting for our children and teachers?
This is a shameful misconduct of epic proportions and the college terminating the accused will hopefully set a precedent that such behavior will not and cannot be tolerated. In the future, education institutes must make sure that they protect their students and chart out a code of ethical conduct for teachers.
Teachers are our beacon of hope. We expect more from them. Only if they lead by example, only if they motivate and inspire, can we follow in suit. For this, teachers must not only be directed by rules, they must hold themselves accountable to be leaders and shining mentors.
The students who were targets of sexual harassment at the college must be feeling humiliated and used. It’s good they spoke up. This single act of courage will save other students from being exploited. A woman must know when to say “no.” It’s her right and she must exercise the right and courage to fight for herself.
If the target is easy prey, predators will always go for it. In a way, this is a lesson and reminder to the society that human beings must learn how to rein animal instincts that make them capable of inhumanity.