KARACHI: Sexual harassment is a taboo topic; in a conservative society like ours most people prefer not to talk about these issues very openly. But one should realise the seriousness and gravity of the topic, especially since it is on the rise in our country.
Most universities in Pakistan have coeducation, so instances of sexual harassment are becoming increasingly common. However, girls often don’t complain or bring up these topics at home, much less in universities, due to the restrictive environment or due to their shy nature. In universities there are hardly any policies that relate to sexual harassment. It becomes very difficult for female students to deal with such cases and work in a public place environment. Teachers and students alike have a responsibility to maintain a harassment-free workplace.
A number of steps can be taken to reduce the risk of sexual harassment occurring in the workplace. Adoption of a clear sexual harassment policy is the first step. This should include: a definition of sexual harassment; to state in no uncertain terms that sexual harassment will not be tolerated; that any violators of the policy will face a penalty which could include dismissal from service; a clear procedure for filing sexual harassment complaints; a statement of intention that all complaints received will be fully investigated and that those who file such complaints will not be harassed in any way.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 9th, 2012.