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May 4, 2018

Officials penalised for harassing woman staff


May 4, 2018

LAHORE : Nearly a dozen women faced workplace harassment by their senior officials in Punjab Population Welfare Department across the province, revealed a document available with The News.

According to the document, Fauza Parveen, family welfare worker, Layyah, was harassed by her boss the then Layyah district population welfare officer (DPWO), Dr Mehtab Ahmad. Fauzia submitted a complaint to PWD director general that he visited her office frequently and used indecent language with her. Upon this, the DPWO got enraged and she was terminated from the job. She knocked every possible door within the department. Afterwards, an inquiry was held against the harasser DPWO. The matter was sent to the Layyah DCO. Factually, the matter was first probed by the DCO through the Layyah additional collector and then by Muhammad Ibrahim Sajid, principal, Population Welfare Training Institute, Lahore. Later, another inquiry was initiated against Dr Mehtab, headed by Bushra Naveed, deputy director (M&E-I) DGPW, Lahore, under the Punjab Employees Efficiency, Discipline & Accountability (PEEDA) Act, 2006.

According to the document, the PWD DG, PME/1493, the DPWO, Layyah, committed irregularities. He did behave like an officer while making conversation with Fauzia and also did not observe dignity of a married woman. He also used Ramzan Taunsvi, TPWO, Layyah, as a tool to victimise Fauzia by calling baseless explanation, the document said. He used to visit the Layyah Tehsil FW Centre without any official work and compelled Fauzia to sit before him and created tension for her. The harasser DPWO did not observe rules and regulations while issuing order regarding termination of Fauzia. Even she was not given an opportunity to defend herself, revealed the document. He misused the administrative power as DPWO.

Bushra Naveed, deputy director (M&E-I) submitted her findings and stated that all the charges were proved against the DPWO, Layyah. She recommended imposition of major penalty of “removal from service” under section 4(1)(b) (v) of PEEDA Act, 2006. The harasser officer was given opportunities of defense but he could not defend himself, thus, charges were proved against him. Upon this, a major penalty of forfeiture three-year service was imposed on him under PEEDA Act, 2006, by the secretary, Punjab Population welfare Department.

Dr Sumaira Afzal, DDPWO, Sheikhupura, was harassed by TPWO, Depalpur, Hassan Iqbal Dogar and Mehboob Alam Dogar, Sheikhupura District Population Welfare officer; Dr Saima Khan, incharge Family Health Clinic, Jhelum DHQ Hospital, was harassed by Mujeeb Rabbani, ex-DPWO, Khanewal; Mst Fariha Fasahat, FWO, was harassed by district population welfare officer, Okara, Fayyaz Ahmed Chaudhary; Riffat Naseem, family welfare assistant (FWA) and Mst Asifa Akram, theatre nurse from Mandi Bahauddin were harassed by Farooq Siddique, junior clerk, MB Din; Mst Uzma Bashir, incharge, FWC Hawali-II, Okara district, was harassed by her four colleagues posted as social mobilisers, named Muhammad Aslam, Sajjad Ali, Altaf Hussain and Nazar Fareed; Mst Tahreem Saleem from Layyah was harassed by Mazhar Samdani, stenographer, Population Welfare Office, Layyah; Mst Ramika Javed was harassed by Muhammd Afzal, ex-district population welfare officer, MB Din.

“Like every other place, harassment in any form is not acceptable in Population Department. No one can be allowed to violate dignity of women as we believe in women empowerment,” said Ambreen Raza, secretary, Punjab Population Welfare Department. According to her, the department has constituted the Anti-Harassment Committee in pursuance to Section 3 (1) of “Punjab Protection Against Harassment of Women at Workplace (Amendment) Act 2012. The committee probes the cases of harassment, and the department takes action against the harasser according to law.

According to Ambreen Raza, Dr Mehtab Ahmad was transferred from Layyah to Lahore and a major penalty was imposed on him after the allegations were proved against him. Hassan Iqbal Dogar and Mehboob Alam Dogar, Sheikhupura District Population Welfare officer, were awarded minor penalty of withholding one increment for five years under Section 4(4) (I) (b) of Protection Against Harassment of Women at Workplace Act 2010. Farooq Siddique and Muhammad Aslam were removed from service. Sajjad Ali, Altaf Hussain and Nazar Freed’s increments for two years were withheld. Mazhar Samdani was awarded major penalty of forced retirement from service.

“No one can be allowed to create hostile environment at workplace,” said the PWD secretary while talking to The News. Ambreen Raza said, “The people sometimes act out of ignorance. They don’t realise the effect their inexcusable words and behaviour can have on others, let alone the law regarding these matters.”

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