KARACHI: Former legislator Kashmala Tariq was sworn in on Tuesday as the federal ombudsperson on "protection against harassment of women at workplace."
Soon after taking oath, administered by President Mamnoon Hussain at a ceremony held in Islamabad, Tariq headed to her new office to learn about the role she can play in combatting harassment at workplace, only to learn that the federal ombudsperson did not have representatives in two of the four provinces; Punjab and Balochistan.
Speaking to The Express Tribune, Tariq said her first initiative would be to create awareness regarding harassment. "We will launch a social campaign for both men and women."
While the campaign will make women aware of their rights, it will also focus on educating men on inappropriate behaviours that make women uneasy. "We will ensure that men know they cannot make women uncomfortable in the workplace," she stressed.
Let’s not forget to raise decent humans
Appointed as ombudsperson for a period of four years, Tariq highlighted the importance of teaching men what they cannot do instead of only teaching women what they should.
Regretting the harassment incident at Pakistan Muslim League - Nawaz (PML-N) rally earlier in the day, Tariq said she intends to rope in women in parliament to help bring change. "Every woman should be a part of this movement."
The former parliamentarian added that she will make efforts towards bringing in legislative changes to strengthen harassment laws in the country if need be.
The federal ombudsman secretariat defines sexual harassment as “any unwelcome sexual advance, request for sexual favour or other verbal or written communication or physical conduct of a sexual nature or sexually demeaning attitudes, causing interference with work performance or creating an intimidating, hostile or offensive work environment, or the attempt to punish the complainant for refusal to comply to such a request or request made a condition for employment.”