Conference on combating online and offline harassment held

October 24, 2019

Islamabad :Participation of a consultation stressed the need of increasing powers of the ombudsperson to provide protective orders to victims as well as expanding the definition of harassment to...

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Islamabad :Participation of a consultation stressed the need of increasing powers of the ombudsperson to provide protective orders to victims as well as expanding the definition of harassment to include all gender-based discrimination at the workplace.

Journalists, lawyers, students, and activists got together to discuss loopholes in harassment-related laws, specifically the Protection against Harassment of Women at the Workplace Act, on Wednesday. They were attend a national conference on ‘Combating Online and Offline Harassment in Pakistan,’ organised by Digital Rights Foundation (DRF).

In order to understand and highlight the challenges in implementing sexual harassment laws in Pakistan, Digital Rights Foundation (DRF) held two back-to-back events on the issue of online and offline harassment in Pakistan. As part of the two-day event, DRF conducted a consultation titled “Combating Online and Offline Sexual Harassment in Pakistan: Rethinking Legal Interventions” and a national conference on Wednesday.

Speaking at the consultation, Nighat Dad, Executive Director of DRF, stated “it is important to revise the definitions of harassment and workplace in order to make the application of the law more inclusive.” The recommendations of the consultation were presented at the conference the next day.

The conference included a keynote address from Kashmala Tariq, the Federal Ombudsperson for Protection Against Harassment. She highlighted the need for more cooperation between different institutions, particularly the different ombudspersons’ offices and the various commissions on the status of women.

The first panel, titled ‘Tackling the criticisms of the Law - Is the legal system a tool for silencing or resistance?’ was moderated by Nighat Dad.

The panelists included Syed Fareed Ali (director Training at Federal Investigative Agency), Tooba Syed (lecturer at Quaid-e-Azam University, Awami Workers Party, Women Democratic Front), Khawar Mumtaz (chairperson National Commission on the Status of Women), Tanzeela Mazhar (journalist), Zoya Rehman (researcher), Aslam Chohan (consultant at Punjab Ombudsperson for Protection Against Harassment), Fauzia Viqar (ex-chairperson of Punjab Commission on the Status of Women) and Nuzhat Shirin (chairperson, Sindh Commission on the Status of Women).


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