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Thursday June 20, 2024

‘Law against workplace harassment yet to make its mark’

By Ebad Ahmed
December 23, 2015

Karachi

Even though women in Pakistani have been given the right to vote and the Article 27 of the Constitution calls for no gender discrimination in state affairs, a mindset still prevails in our society wherein they are merely treated as a commodity, Mehnaz Rehman of the Aurat Foundation said on Tuesday.

Rehman was speaking at a seminar to commemorate national day for the rights of working women held at the auditorium of the Sindh Boy Scouts Association by the Sindh Ombudsman Office in collaboration with the Mehargarh Institute.

She appreciated the efforts of Dr Fauzia Saeed, the author of “Working With The Sharks”, that resulted in the passage of the protection against harassment of women at workplace law.

“The law is there now, but the government and civil society must ensure its implementation,” she noted.

“The law is just a part of the solution. Primarily it’s the societal perspective of women, that notion that women should be restricted indoors must be changed.”

Zofeen Ebrahim, a freelance journalist, said the highly questionable media coverage of women’s issues would change only when women were appointed to decision-making posts.

She also lambasted media organisations for not implementing the anti-harassment law in its true letter and spirit.

Ebrahim noted that barring one English daily, no other print or electronic organisation had formed a committee against sexual harassment that should include at least one female employee to look into matters.   

Ebrahim said while researching on sexual harassment reports, she had heard shameful responses including “a decent woman should just hang up the phone in case somebody says something objectionable and “she was not good looking enough to be harassed”.

On the occasion, the provincial ombudsman office presented its annual report on women issues, the sexual
harassment cases registered and the functioning of committees working under its jurisdiction.

The event was also attended by Ghazi Salahuddin, Sania Saeed, Samina Ahmed, Hasina Moin, and Tauqir Fatima Bhutto.