What constitutes sexual harassment?

A 2010 law and HEC guidelines on sexual harassment define the term.


Aroosa Shaukat February 19, 2013
If found guilty, a person can be imprisoned for up to three years or be fined up to Rs500, 000 or both. PHOTO: FILE

LAHORE: Protection against Harassment of Women at Workplace Act 2010

In March 2010, President Asif Ali Zardari signed the Protection against Harassment of Women at Workplace bill into law, which seeks to create a safe working environment for women, free of intimidation and abuse.

The law defines harassment as “any unwelcome sexual advance, request for sexual favours 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 is made a condition for employment”.

Formation of a three-member inquiry committee was made mandatory under Section 3 of the Act. The law requires that at least one member of the committee is a woman. The committee is required to submit its findings within 30 days and to impose penalties, which, in serious cases, can result in dismissal from service and fine.

Under the law, all private and public organisations are required to formulate a Code of Conduct.



Section 509 of the Pakistan Penal Code was also amended. The amended section ‘Insulting Modesty or causing Sexual Harassment’, elaborates on the kinds of harassment that shall be considered in the realm of the said section. If found guilty, a person can be imprisoned for up to three years or be fined up to Rs500, 000 or both.

HEC’s policy guidelines

Following the enactment of the law, the Higher Education Commission also developed a policy code for higher education institutions (HEI) called the ‘Policy Guidelines against Sexual Harassment at Institutions of Higher Learning’ in 2011. The policy covers harassment by teachers and students.

It defines sexual harassment as: any unwanted sexual advances and unwelcome requests for sexual favours.

A Harassment Monitoring Officer, with at least 10 years experience and ‘sound’ reputation is required, under the HEC guidelines, to promote awareness on sexual harassment and to act as adviser in case of a complaint on campus.

The policy recommends the formation of a Harassment Complaint Cell with a team comprising of a ‘gender-sensitised’ harassment officer, with one of the senior members being female. Penalties for those found guilty range from warnings to fine and from suspension to dismissal.

It urges HEIs to formulate programmes that educate its students and staff to ensure the prevention of sexual harassment on campuses. It also advises that information be disseminated amongst students regarding who they should report to when they face harassment.

Published in The Express Tribune, February 19th, 2013.

COMMENTS (5)

Sri Aiyer Raju Sreenivasan | 8 years ago | Reply

I am thoroughly impressed by what I read about Sexual Harassment laws in Pakistan which is gender-neutral unlike the half-baked laws on the subject in India formulated by cattle class academics and egomaniacs like JS Verma! Well.

Following a heated argument on 10 Apr 2008 on a private matter with a female Professor Dr. Shankari Sundararaman, JNU, New Delhi, at the end of which I told her to shut up and mind her own business; she couldn't do much as the matter pertained to me and therefore she had to shut up. But she promised before parting that she would "teach me the lesson of my life". After nearly six months on 29 Sep 2008 she lodged a complaint with the Gender Sensitization Committee Against Sexual Harassment (GSCASH) of JNU that I sexually harassed her by sending her lewd emails in transliterated Tamil requesting her to give me Axl Rose (an anagram for a basic instinct), on 11 and 12 Apr 2008 from my Yahoo ID to her Hotmail account.

Since I had done nothing of the sort I vehemently denied the same and demanded that I be given a copy of the offensive emails. She declared that she had deleted the same both from her inbox and trashcan "by mistake". Even in the absence of these vital documents the JNU Teachers Association which controls GSCASH took up her complaint for an "enquiry". The matter was referred to Yahoo; Yahoo reported that my ID was registered on 14 Feb 2008 and that I had subsequently accessed it on 30 Apr 2008, 14 & 18 May 2008 IMPLICITLY PROVING that I did not even operate my account on those amorous days of 11-12 Apr 2008. How can anyone send emails even without logging into an account? Only the self-styled intellectual elite of JNU can explain that. JNU jokers jumped the gun just because the Yahoo Report linked my private telephone to my mail ID! They assumed that, that proves my guilt! At the end of this Kangaroo Court of an Enquiry I was pronounced guilty and "compulsorily retired without financial loss" with effect from 29 July 2010. I have filed a Writ against JNU in the Honourable Delhi High Court and I expect it to be taken up in March 2013.

The irony is everyone in JNU starting from its Vice-Chancellors (BB Bhattacharya & now Sudhir Kumar Sopory), Registrars (V.K. Jain & now Sandeep Chatterjee), Rectors (Ramadhikari Kumari, and now Prof. Miss Sudha Pai), Members of Executive Council (the highest Governing Body of JNU), Prof. Miss Sangeeta Dasgupta (the then Chairman of Complaints Screening Committee), Prof. Miss KD Usha (the then Chairman of GSCASH and Member, GSCASH Enquiry Committee), Prof. Miss Vidhu Verma (Chairman of Appeals Committee), Members of the Administration, JNU -- NONE OF THEM have seen in black and white what I have been accused of, yet all of them ganged up against this lowly, humble Stenographer and pronounced me guilty. I am amazed as to how they have staked their everything for the sake of their colleague, a Professor! JNU Teachers run the University on the lines of "All for one and One for all" (on matters concerning teachers, they are thick as thieves).

The last word on this has not been pronounced yet, and I am waiting, as I can afford to wait. In the mean time I have dared them all to rubbish me before the public at large as to what a danger I pose to the society by exposing my obscenities! The Yahoo Report which is the albatross around their neck, Sandeep Chatterjee calls it "hyper-technic" (whatever he means by it) and Vidhu Verma calls it "technical mumbo-jumbo". How did such lowly intellects come to occupy such exalted positions? I wonder!

Sri Aiyer Raju Sreenivasan | 8 years ago | Reply

I am thoroughly impressed by what I read about Sexual Harassment laws in Pakistan which is gender-neutral unlike the half-baked laws on the subject in India formulated by cattle class academics and egomaniacs like JS Verma! Well.

Following a heated argument on 10 Apr 2008 on a private matter with a female Professor Dr. Shankari Sundararaman, JNU, New Delhi, at the end of which I told her to shut up and mind her own business; she couldn't do much as the matter pertained to me and therefore she had to shut up. But she promised before parting that she would "teach me the lesson of my life". After nearly six months on 29 Sep 2008 she lodged a complaint with the Gender Sensitization Committee Against Sexual Harassment (GSCASH) of JNU that I sexually harassed her by sending her lewd emails in transliterated Tamil requesting her to give me Axl Rose (an anagram for a basic instinct), on 11 and 12 Apr 2008 from my Yahoo ID to her Hotmail account.

Since I had done nothing of the sort I vehemently denied the same and demanded that I be given a copy of the offensive emails. She declared that she had deleted the same both from her inbox and trashcan "by mistake". Even in the absence of these vital documents the JNU Teachers Association which controls GSCASH took up her complaint for an "enquiry". The matter was referred to Yahoo; Yahoo reported that my ID was registered on 14 Feb 2008 and that I had subsequently accessed it on 30 Apr 2008, 14 & 18 May 2008 IMPLICITLY PROVING that I did not even operate my account on those amorous days of 11-12 Apr 2008. How can anyone send emails even without logging into an account? Only the self-styled intellectual elite of JNU can explain that. JNU jokers jumped the gun just because the Yahoo Report linked my private telephone to my mail ID! They assumed that, that proves my guilt! At the end of this Kangaroo Court of an Enquiry I was pronounced guilty and "compulsorily retired without financial loss" with effect from 29 July 2010. I have filed a Writ against JNU in the Honourable Delhi High Court and I expect it to be taken up in March 2013.

The irony is everyone in JNU starting from its Vice-Chancellors (BB Bhattacharya & now Sudhir Kumar Sopory), Registrars (V.K. Jain & now Sandeep Chatterjee), Rectors (Ramadhikari Kumari, and now Prof. Miss Sudha Pai), Members of Executive Council (the highest Governing Body of JNU), Prof. Miss Sangeeta Dasgupta (the then Chairman of Complaints Screening Committee), Prof. Miss KD Usha (the then Chairman of GSCASH and Member, GSCASH Enquiry Committee), Prof. Miss Vidhu Verma (Chairman of Appeals Committee), Members of the Administration, JNU -- NONE OF THEM have seen in black and white what I have been accused of, yet all of them ganged up against this lowly, humble Stenographer and pronounced me guilty. I am amazed as to how they have staked their everything for the sake of their colleague, a Professor! JNU Teachers run the University on the lines of "All for one and One for all" (on matters concerning teachers, they are thick as thieves).

The last word on this has not been pronounced yet, and I am waiting, as I can afford to wait. In the mean time I have dared them all to rubbish me before the public at large as to what a danger I pose to the society by exposing my obscenities! The Yahoo Report which is the albatross around their neck, Sandeep Chatterjee calls it "hyper-technic" (whatever he means by it) and Vidhu Verma calls it "technical mumbo-jumbo". How did such lowly intellects come to occupy such exalted positions? I wonder!!

VIEW MORE COMMENTS
Replying to X

Comments are moderated and generally will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive.

For more information, please see our Comments FAQ

E-Publications

Most Read