Iranian Professor Sexually Harrassed Female Students

Iranian Professor Sexually Harrassed Female Students
Representative image. đź“· Karolina Grabowska

Seven years ago I entered the PhD program at an Iranian university. Some professors of this university were considered to be renowned scientists who graduated from prestigious universities in the world. I took a course with a professor who claimed to be a professor at a top American University as well. We, as first-year PhD students, were very thrilled to be in his class, although he was known for being unkind and strict with students. He was a distinguished professor and ran several companies, but we could not get too much out of his class. He was not a skilled teacher. Nevertheless, when we appeared for his paper, it turned out to be ridiculously easy. I vividly remember that all the students were surprised about how easy the exam was. Like others, I also believed that I would get full marks, but what came as a shock was that I failed the exam! As a result, I went directly to this professor’s office to make a complaint about my marks. He told me I should forget about continuing PhD and that I don’t have any talent. He was mad at me. I left his room, but I was not convinced about my low marks. I was sure that this was unfair. My immediate supervisor said that it’s better to forget about this low mark because I can’t do anything about it.

Read: A 20-year-old boy was murdered and beheaded by his family for being gay in Iran

Later, when I entered the third year of my PhD. I heard that many female students had sued that professor who gave me a low mark. The reason for the complaint by the students was sexual harassment. What was common between the other female students and I was an unexpected failure in the exam, but what made my case different from theirs was that they received SMS and WhatsApp messages of harassment in which they were asked to go to the professor’s office to be with him to be touched! It seemed that the professor was not sexually attracted to me.

One of the female students who received a message from the professor was married. When he told the professor that she was married, the professor said to her that’s no problem for him. It was bizarre because the professor was known as a religious married man with high moral values. Later, it was revealed that he had sent many messages of molestation to female students over a long period of time. Unfortunately, some female students went to his office and satisfied his sexual desires and consequently had an increase in their marks.

When the people in the educational affairs office checked, the system saw that there was an increase in scores of some female students. Having talked to those students, the university officials found out there was a relationship between the messages received by those students and what they did in the supervisor’s office or even outside the university and an increase in their marks. As a result, the professor went on a trial.

All evidence was against him. He sent all messages of harassment by his official phone number in the contact list of the university professors and employees. When the professor was asked why he sexually harassed female students, he answered he wanted to marry them because, in Islam, men can have several marriages. The judge asked him why did you want to abuse a married woman against her will? He replied that she was divorced, and I wanted to marry her. Then he told the court that he is an Isargar. In Iran, people in the army who participated in the former Iran-Iraq war are called Isargar, meaning veterans. They may be disabled, martyred, or survivors of prisoners of war. He claimed that he is a 4% disabled Isargar or veteran who only meant to marry girls who were sexually harassed, and he denied the abuse of his power. He was exonerated.

What remains to be answered is that can this professor do the same thing in the top American University where he is also a faculty member? What happens if he, as a US citizen and a professor, sexually harassed American students? He definitely can’t defend himself by saying that he is a 4 per cent, disabled veteran.

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