Implementing the law

Published: February 28, 2011
A host of social attitudes and discriminations come into play when it comes to protecting women's rights.

A host of social attitudes and discriminations come into play when it comes to protecting women's rights.

A study of the statute books in Pakistan reveals, for the most part, that a set of laws that are comprehensive and attempt to address many key areas of concern in the country or not being implemented. We know this holds true of laws even as mundane as those that apply to traffic regulations – but the problem is especially acute when it comes to laws that are intended to protect the rights of women. A host of social attitudes and discriminations come into play, especially at levels involving the police and the local administrations.

Speakers at the fourth meeting of the Implementation Watch Committee of the National Commission on the Status of Women took up a number of these issues and suggested remedies. While the PPP government has, since coming to power in 2008, introduced several legislative bills — notably the Protection of Women Against Sexual Harassment at the Workplace Act, a law campaigned for by ASHA, a network of organisations working against sexual harassment for many years — lack of implementation remains an issue.

Speakers highlighted the need for departments to enforce the law and it was pointed out that provinces needed to appoint ombudsmen to protect working women and the need to create awareness about the existence of the law and its provisions was also brought up.

We need more such seminars. Most important of all is the need to spread the message to working women — notably those employed at factories and similar set-ups. Men, too, need to be better informed about just what sexual harassment is, so that they can take a stand by exerting pressure on colleagues and acting to protect women subjected to harassment. The passage of a law is, after all, just a first step; much more needs to be done to follow up on it and turn it into something that works out in the real world.

Published in The Express Tribune, February 28th, 2011.

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Reader Comments (4)

  • Feb 28, 2011 - 1:49AM

    The most important aspect in lack of implementation of the sexual harassment in the workplace law is the lack of awareness and the will to make the three member committee in each organization. The government especially needs to work with NGOs and other corporate and private organizations to spread awareness about how to implement this law and its procedures in all organizations whether schools, colleges, universities, hospitals, clinics, corporate sector, private businesses and industry, public sector organizations. The electronic media is very powerful forum and it needs to repeatedly bring this into focus.Recommend

  • Feb 28, 2011 - 2:18AM

    I remember Dasti sahib was vehement opponent of Protection of Women against Sexual Harassment bill. Where is he now?Recommend

  • muhammad zahid
    Feb 28, 2011 - 2:18PM

    Things won’t change in pakistan unless the women change their mentality.
    There are thousands of girls who after doing their BBA’S,MBA’S waste all their education by choosing to live an easier life by landing a rich husband & then living off his income for the remainder of their lives.

    Especially deserving condemnation are the MBBS girls who get high education at subsidised rates from the govt. & then these girls waste away the taxpayer’s money by getting immediately married after graduation & then sit at home.Ladies,you don’t need a Master’s degree to learn how to change diapers; the aya can do it as well.

    As long as girls don’t make having a career a priority in their lives,they will continue to get treated as 2nd class citizens for as long as you beg your husband or father for “pocket money” you’ll continue to be treated as personal property.Recommend

  • tahir amjad
    Feb 28, 2011 - 2:45PM

    Nothing will change as pakistani society views women as sex objects only.Mothers terrorise their daughters into hiding behind layers of cloth as a woman’s body according to our maulvis is a instrument of temptation which leads naujawans astray.

    Girls from their birth are taught to feel ashamed of their bodies,that they are some dirty things that have to be kept hidden & locked up behind the chaar diwari.

    We think it’s our fundamental right to make all the decisions for our sisters,wives,daughters as an overwhelming majority of pakistani men think of women as intellectually inferior to men.

    women too have a part in their current sorry state.They choose to surrender before everything their fathers,brothers or their ‘majazi khuda’ say.If more women stood up to the men in their lives our country would be a better place.Recommend

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