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December 14, 2019

People’s insensitivities main challenge in implementation

Islamabad

December 14, 2019

Islamabad :Challenges faced in the implementation of anti-sexual harassment legislation are mostly related to people’s insensitivities, gender attitudes and intentions, rather than the law itself.

The views were shared by the participants at a consultation organised on Friday by Mehergarh to review implementation of anti-sexual harassment legislation.

Maliha Husain, executive director of Mehergarh said that a series of such review consultations will be held in all provinces leading up to a major event to consolidate the learning of implementation. Mehergarh has been leading the implementation of the anti-sexual harassment legislation since it was passed in 2010.

The consultation invited representatives of the public sector, private sector, civil society, universities, employee unions, lawyer fraternity and journalists. The agenda of the consultation was to collect evidence of implementation and views on the changes that people have witnessed over the last ten years. Participants were asked to share their achievements; discuss what strategies have worked; the challenges that they faced and how to address them in the future, in the context of this law.

In 2000, a movement of AASHA began in Pakistan to raise awareness on the issue of sexual harassment and assist the government and private sector to create a society free of sexual harassment. As a result of this movement, anti-sexual harassment legislation was passed in 2010, for which Pakistan has the credit to be the first country in South Asia to have a special law on the issue. 2020 will mark as 10 years of implementation of anti-sexual harassment legislation in Pakistan.

The consultation was presided by Dr. Fouzia Saeed, founder of AASHA movement who shared how AASHA started the implementation process in the first two years after the law was passed by working closely with the federal and provincial governments, private sector and civil society. Sardar Shah, Representative from National Institute of Banking & Finance (NIBAF) shared how The State Bank of Pakistan complied with this law and has been monitoring compliance in the whole banking sector of Pakistan. He also said that they have officially included a module on this law in all of their trainings.

Sadaf Dar from RSPN reported that they have worked on implementation of the law in 149 districts of Pakistan and has seen a remarkable change in the mind set of people over the ten years. Tamana Banuri, who has been working closely with police shared that 11 out of 15 policing departments have fully complied with the law, whereas, FIA & Motorway police have taken the compliance process to the regional level.

In the second part of the consultation, participants shared the challenges they face in the implementation process are mostly related to people’s insensitivities, gender attitudes and intentions, rather than the law itself. Dr Riffat Haque from academia mentioned lack of continuity of policies posed a serious problem. Sometimes when a committee member is transferred the committees are not reconstituted. Others mentioned individual dependency on quality of implementation. Most of them agreed that where there are more sensitized men or a higher number of females, the implementation process is more effective.

Despite the challenges all participants agreed that the compliance of the law is spreading at a fast rate making women feel more confident and safe at workplaces. They stressed that the process might be difficult, but the progress is commendable.

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