Tuesday October 19, 2021

Sexual harassment charges: Secretary sent on ‘forced leave’

September 03, 2021
Sexual harassment charges: Secretary sent on ‘forced leave’

ISLAMABAD: A senior federal secretary went on long leave on Thursday “after he was asked by the higher authorities to get himself cleared from sexual harassment charges”.

Weeks ago, a female officer of the federal government filed a complaint against a federal secretary, accusing him of sexual harassment at the workplace. "I have myself applied for leave. I handed over my leave application to the Secretary Establishment today [Aug 2, 2021]. I asked him [Secretary ED] to accept my application as I want to get my name cleared first. It's a 100% [propaganda] campaign against me. It is all baseless," the secretary told this correspondent.

The female officer, who did not want to come on the media, said she wrote a confidential letter to Secretary Establishment Division Afzal Latif that she was subjected to sexual harassment by her senior officer.

But Mr Latif did not comment on the development despite several attempts made by this correspondent. The female officer claimed that no one entertained her formal complaint despite her several attempts to submit her applications with the minister and senior officers concerned. The woman alleged that the senior officer physically and verbally harassed her which, according to her, was defined under Section 2 (h) of the Protection Against Harassment of Women at the Workplace Act 2010 on official premises and via phone calls.

The secretary, who left his charge, said he was being victimised and targeted by some seniors, who did not want to see him on higher posts. Baseless campaign started against him at a time when his name was being considered for one of top constitutional positions, he added.

Three top constitutional positions namely Auditor General of Pakistan, Wafaqi Mohtasib (Ombudsman) of Pakistan and Federal Tax Ombudsman fell vacant last month and many top serving officers and retired bureaucrats were in the race to avail the opportunity, officials said. The woman officer now got herself transferred to another department to protect herself from abuse.

She appealed to Secretary Establishment Division to ensure the safety and well-being of female employees as, according to her, there were many other working women who showed their courage to speak against male harassers working in the offices of the federal government. In her application, she said this issue might be looked into immediately under Section 11 of the Protection Against Harassment of Women at the Workplace Act 2010 (PAHWWA).

A senior woman officer was also of the view that sometimes such allegations proved genuine, but it is also seen that sometimes such charges had little grounds though. New secretary for Ministry of National Food Security & Research Meanwhile, the federal government was considering the name of senior officer Tahir Khurshid for the post of Federal Food Secretary.

Khurshid was asked to report to the Establishment Division when he was working as Principal Secretary to Chief Minister Punjab last month. He was likely to be working as the in-charge additional secretary for National Food Security and Research.