Combating sexual harassment: Dr Fouzia Saeed to be recognised for her services

Published: September 24, 2012
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Dr Fouzia Saeed

Dr Fouzia Saeed

KARACHI: Social activist Dr Fouzia Saeed has been recognised for her services by the Washington Oxi Day Foundation. 

The foundation chose Dr Saeed for its Battle of Crete Award, which honours women who have contributed to freedom and democracy in their countries. Last year, the award was presented to Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Aung San Suu Kyi.

The Battle of Crete Award is named after the women of Crete, Greece, who fought against the invading Nazi forces at the Battle of Crete, 1941, in The Second World War. It will be presented to Dr Saeed in October this year.

The award aims to acknowledge her struggle against sexual harassment and comes after the publication of her book ‘Working with sharks: Countering sexual harassment in our lives’. The book, published in December 2011, documents her work against institutionalised sexual harassment at the United Nations’ offices in Islamabad.

Saeed’s 13-year-long fight for justice at the UN spawned a movement for the rights of working women, and eventually to the criminalisation of sexual harassment in Pakistan.

The movement, called the Alliance Against Sexual Harassment (Aasha) was launched in 2001 and engaged all segments of society, including government officials, the International Labour Organisation and the private sector.  Aasha influenced 300 organisations to voluntarily adopt a policy against sexual harassment.

Finally in 2008, Dr Saaed drafted two pieces of legislation to curb sexual harassment at formal and informal workplaces, including public spaces and homes. After intense lobbying, the bills were unanimously passed by the National Assembly and by a heavy majority in the Senate in 2010. The comprehensive law against sexual harassment is the first of its kind in South Asia.

Published in The Express Tribune, September 24th, 2012.

 

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Reader Comments (2)

  • MN
    Sep 24, 2012 - 11:41AM

    brave lady!

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  • Sep 24, 2012 - 12:22PM

    Vienna,September 24,2012
    Good news. Dr.Fouzia type young women should be every where.
    She should travel in India and open a chapter of Aasha. I would
    advise her to visit Pandita Ramabai Ashram at Khedgaon near
    Pune.Pandita Ramabai 1858-1921, was the first woman in the sub
    continent, who stood for woman´s emancipation,protecting child
    widows,female education and the right to choose the suitable
    spouse without caste consideration.She traveled on parental feet
    on a basket as a six month old baby from Mongalore in South
    to Kashmir and Nepal as She resisted Brahmin Mullahs like
    Bal Gangadhar Tilak,known as Lokamanya married a “shudra” in
    Bengal, became a Christian without submitting Baptist Church.
    It was to her credit India got a all female university in Bombay.
    She should know Ramabai´s influence led Hindus accept women
    as priests/mullahs to interpret the religion.The group is priestesses
    of Kakori Sadhu group.Fouzia should visit Natheebhai Thakarsey
    Women´s University in Bombay´s Marine Lines.She should learn
    about Maharshi Karve and the life of his child widow wife Godutai
    Karve,who was rescued by Ramabai.Ramabai sent her daughter
    Manorama to Australia and Indonesia to promote women´s rights.
    Although Manorama died a year earlier than her mother Ramabai
    remains an inspiration for the subcontinental women.If Pakistani
    women can assert themselves, the Pakistani social chemistry
    would change for peace and stability.
    Taravadu Taranga trust for Media Monitoring TTTMM India
    –Kulamarva Balakrishna

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