The National University of Science and Technology (NUST) is considered one of the country’s most prestigious institutions. But at the moment it’s getting a ton of flak with the introduction of its latest sexist smoking policy on campus.
Like most universities, NUST initially had a no-smoking policy inside the campus, be it men or women; and hence, the entire campus used to be a non-smoking zone. Anyone found smoking inside was charged a fine which was quite understandable. What is not understandable (by most people if you gauge from social media), is their new policy regarding smoking on campus. According to this policy, there are now designated smoking areas on campus.
Sounds reasonable, right?
Well, there’s more and if you ask me, it’s NOT good.
The notice of the new smoking policy clearly states that male students can smoke freely in the designated areas but female students are not even allowed in these areas.
Yes, you read that right. And I, for one, did not know how to react when I read the news article this morning.
Because it stank of utter biasness.
NUST establishes designated smoking areas on campus but bans 'girls' from entering them (essentially amounting to a gender-specific smoking ban). It is crazy what kind of stone-age sexist drivel the men running #Pakistan's universities are allowed to get away with.#NayaPakistan pic.twitter.com/uFgEQvmo2J
— Saahira Khan (@khanSaahira) September 20, 2018
I have never cared about biology or the human anatomy in my 21 years of life but as I read the article, the little that I remember from back in school screamed inside me telling me the same thing over and over. That a man has the same number of lungs a woman has, which is two, and that it is equally harmful when a man’s two lungs are exposed to cigarette smoke as it is for a woman.
But no…apparently smoking is injurious to a man’s lungs and a woman’s character.
@Official_NUST did you know cigarettes are harmful for men AND women? Do you hate women? I can’t think of any other reason for your stupid new smoking policy.
— Aliza (@alizasukhera) September 18, 2018
However, while the policy makes no sense to many people, this isn’t the first time that the institute has discriminated against the ‘weaker sex’. There is also a rule that states that women cannot wear jeans on campus and that the lights-out time for girls residing in the campus hostel is two hours earlier than the boys’ curfew. I am sure there have been protests regarding these rules as well but the smoking ban is so utterly absurd that it has literally given a bad name to NUST, at least on social media.
About the new policy, a female student at NUST said, “They say they will contact girls’ parents if they are even caught in the smoking areas as well as fine them, whereas, boys will be fined only if they are caught smoking outside the smoking areas.”
Another student commented, “NUST is so sexist. Everything from the hostel curfew to the smoking area is in the boys’ favour.”
It’s quite obvious that the student body is going NUTS about NUST’s policies (pun absolutely intended). I mean, how is it fair for a male student to smoke while female students will be fined, speculated about, and have a complaint lodged with their parents?!
And that too, on the same campus.
Just a few days ago, I read a feature about 10 NUST girls who had made it to the Formula Student competition in UK and won their ‘Spirit of Formula’ award for being the first ever all-girls team at the competition. That article was such a ray of hope, not only for NUST, but for girls all over the country. In contrast, this new policy casts a shadow on all that women hope to and are capable of achieving in this country.
It is downright sad to see one of the top educational institutes of the country, which claims to groom individuals (men and women) to work confidently alongside each other without any gender discrimination, literally take a step backward and put policies in place that only work to maximize the gender bias and gap. Because this isn’t just about smoking. It is about a deeply-ingrained mentality; a mentality that, if not curbed, can lead to further oppression of women, not just at NUST but in all walks of life.
I really do hope that the management at NUST will consider reviewing this policy and either ban smoking on campus for everyone or allow it for everyone, instead of discriminating and targeting a specific gender, without any reasonable and practical explanation.
If it doesn’t do so, it will only have itself to blame for the resulting negativity, gender bias and worse, crimes against women.