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Monday November 29, 2021

Universities working on harassment-free environment

November 09, 2020

Islamabad : Two major institutes of higher education from Islamabad and Dera Ismael Khan - Bahria University and Gomal University participated in a three-day residential training organized by Mehergarh: A Centre for Learning, in its continued efforts to implement anti-sexual harassment legislation.

Senior officials and Standing Inquiry Committee Members, committed to making the environment of their universities harassment-free, totally focused on what type of behaviours constitute sexual harassment, as it is still a tabooed topic in our society and even educated people are not always sure of what all is included. They also learned the effective implementation of the law and HEC’s anti-sexual harassment policy. They said that if is important to provide our students with an environment where they can focus on getting a good education.

Other participants of this training were from Cotton Web, a private sector company, Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, and some other civil society organization. The number of participants was kept low and the SOPs of COVID-19 were strictly followed to ensure everyone’s safety. It was a very diverse group from seven different cities including Gilgit, Mingora, Sialkot, Lahore, and Karachi.

Maliha Husain, the lead trainer of this training said that she was very hopeful from the group. Some of them had already adopted the Code of Conduct, but were facing challenges in implementing it and dealing with cases as they tend to be quite complex. They were very engaged during the training and asked a lot of questions about the issues they face. They acknowledged that after this training, they will definitely be able to increase the effectiveness of implementing this Act. She also said that this issue has not only to do with our work places, but it involves our lives and those of our families. It is high time we start talking about it to our children about it to ensure their safety.

Dr. Fouzia Saeed, the founding member of AASHA and Mehergarh was invited to present the certificates to the participants. She also gave out signed copies of her book, ‘Working with Sharks: Countering Sexual Harassment in our Lives’ to all the participants. She said that if every one of them seriously worked on creating awareness and spreading the word, there is no reason why we cannot curb this issue in our society.