Teaching is one of the leading professions for females graduates in the UK. The teacher's job is one of the most stressful jobs in the country due to ever changing government policies, reduction in school funding, paperwork, relentless exam cycles, and dealing with unruly and sometimes violent students.
Now, many in the teaching sector are having to deal with the issue of sexual harassment and teaching unions are demanding action to protect teachers.
Why do children do it?
What makes some children take intimate pictures of their female teachers? What makes others share it? What are the suggested solutions to tackle this problem?
"It's a laugh, isn't it?" is one of those popular ideas expressed by children when asked. Upskirting and similar actions are seen as harmless fun.
Chris Keates, the general secretary of the NASUWT teachers union disagrees:
"We get a lot of image abuse that's not just upskirting, but for example we've had members who have actually become quite seriously ill or who have left the profession, because they've had their photograph pasted on pornographic images that have been distributed."
On my way to work, I sometimes see children in school uniform staring at pictures of scantily clad women while reading the free newspapers that are available on London's transport network. So they are growing up in a climate where seeing other peoples nakedness has been normalised. This can make them immune to thinking about the real impact of upskirting.
Humiliation and power
Some pass round intimate pictures of teachers and girls as another way to exert power over them. There are cases where such pictures and videos were then used to bully girls into committing further indecent acts - against their will - causing immense trauma.
In the UK, upskirting was only made illegal in April 2019. Yes, that recently. Before that, police were unsure of how to deal with reported cases. The fact it is illegal is no guarantee that incidents will decrease. Sexual assault is illegal and carries a jail sentence, yet we are witnessing many cases of sexual assaults because society fails to address the values that make some people want to carry out such crimes in the first place.
The sexualisation of women is widespread in the media, TV, cinema and elsewhere in the West. Wherever you look, women are portrayed in adverts and popular culture as objects of gratification whose sexuality is used to sell chocolate, soap, and all types of commodities. This is in the name of 'freedom' but what message does that send to children regarding how to view women?
It's about values
Building better staircases and banning mobile phones in classrooms doesn't address the underlying values that some pupils have embraced which leads them to take or share intimate images of their teachers.
Imagine a culture that teaches people they are accountable for their actions, as opposed to a secular culture that teaches that you are free to live as you want. Imagine a culture where the teacher is seen as a source of knowledge, someone to be respected because she is a human being of value, not a sexual object to be gawked at or humiliated.
These are the values Islam promotes hence creating a self policing individual who does not want to earn the anger of their Creator. This is taqwa (God consciousness). These values create a community where people motivate one another to do good deeds as defined by the shariah and to shun indecency. Islam addresses the root of the problem by addressing values.
This creates a community where indecent actions like upskirting are not condoned and the resulting pictures and videos are not shared because the community of Muslims believes in the Qur'anic command to 'forbid what is wrong'. This creates a strong public climate where those promoting unIslamic actions will be rebuked and shunned - as a religious duty - as repeated in this famous Qur'anic verse.
كُنتُمْ خَيْرَ أُمَّةٍ أُخْرِجَتْ لِلنَّاسِ تَأْمُرُونَ بِالْمَعْرُوفِ وَتَنْهَوْنَ عَنِ الْمُنكَرِ وَتُؤْمِنُونَ بِاللَّهِ
You are the best nation produced [as an example] for mankind. You enjoin what is right and forbid what is wrong and believe in Allah . [Ale-Imran 3:10]
As a final resort, those who are not restrained from committing vile acts by their taqwa (consciousness of God) or the public opinion will then be dealt with by the full force of the law within an Islamic khilafah state - and that is expected to be a tiny minority of people.
Secular societies fail to address the underlying values that lead to upskirting. Under the guise of freedom and entertainment, all manner of indecent material is promoted.
Mainstream websites and news outlets entertain the public with the latest bikini photos of this or that celebrity or news of which one of them cheated on their partner.
Without a change of values such issues will remain.
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