‘Working with Sharks’: A biting story of workplace harassment

Published: March 10, 2012

Author Fouzia Saeed handed out prizes to painting competition winners.

ISLAMABAD: 

As Women’s Day celebrations continued all over the world, some decided to celebrate in a serious and thought-provoking manner. Author of “Taboo”, Dr Fouzia Saeed launched her new book “Working with Sharks” on Friday.

The book deals with her personal experiences as a working woman in Pakistan and how she countered the unpleasant circumstances that come with it. The launch was a part of Lok Virsa’s five-day Woman’s Week Festival.

At the launch, Lok Virsa’s walls were adorned with paintings made the previous day by young schoolgirls for a contest, prizes for which were given out at the end of the book launch.

Lok Virsa Executive Director Khalid Javaid was the first to speak at the event as he lauded Dr Fouzia’s work and expressed that the painting competition’s main purpose was to bring young girls together to paint and create awareness on themes of ‘women’s empowerment’ and ‘harassment of women at work’.

Artist and actor Jamal Shah, who was the chief guest, spoke about the paintings hanging all around the hall. “Many of the paintings depict our patriarchal social attitude and the extreme level of intolerance towards females, especially at work,” he said, before going on to ask the audience whether they had ever faced harassment in the way that women face awkward jibes and stares every day.

Dr Fouzia presented a copy of the book to Shah and distributed shields to the winners of the painting exhibition. Many of the paintings depicted women struggling to find an identity in society. Some of the young artists painted a morose depiction of the role of women. Using dark colours, they showcased women being abused with acid or chained by their ankles as they are unable to find freedom for themselves.

“Everyone’s perception is different, so we all painted according to what we felt needed to be showcased. Being a ‘girls-only’ competition, we all felt strongly about the theme,” said a young student.

The painting competition had 55 participants, with Fatima Jinnah University winning six out of seven prizes.

Published in The Express Tribune, March 10th, 2012. 

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