November 22, 2012
November 22, 2012
A professor was dismissed for supervising a film made by a group of female students about sexual harassment in universities.
President of the University of Jordan Khleif al-Tawarneh dismissed School of Languages’ dean, Rula Qawas, for supervising a sexual harassment film made by her students, the London-based al-Hayat newspaper reported.
The film, which was part of the Feminist Theory course taught by Qawas, triggered a wave of criticism after it was posted on You Tube.
Critics accused the film makers of “promoting vice and stripping the society of its values.”
Criticism for making the “scandalous” film later compelled Tawarneh to dismiss Qawas for tarnishing the image of the university.
Dismissal of the Feminist Theory’s professor angered activists, journalists, writers, and students. Several campaigns were launched to express solidarity with her and in which she was praised for making a film that raises awareness about sexual harassment. Her supporters also slammed the president’s decision which, they said, was an “act of vengeance.”
But Tawarneh denied the link between the film and Qawas’s dismissal, which he labeled as “a purely administrative decision” that falls under his powers as president of the university.
But the Committee for Academic Freedoms at the University of Middle East Studies in Jordan rejected Tawarneh’s claims and said there were no documents proving Qawas’s negligence or weak performance, the decision could not have been administrative. The timing showed that the film was the reason for her dismissal, the committee added.
Tawarneh’s action was also condemned internationally by academics and women rights activists, who urged him to bring Qawas back to teach at the university.
The Cairo-based Arab Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI) said Qawas’s dismissal constituted “a flagrant violation of freedom of expression and academic research,” and accused Tawarneh of persecuting her.
The dismissed professor stressed in earlier press statements the importance of changing society’s outlook to certain sensitive issues, especially ones related to women.
“It is very disappointing that the majority insists on resisting any initiative that aims to change society for the better,” she said.