For working women facing harassment at work and in public, some respite came in the form of the ‘Protection against Harassment of Women at Workplace Act 2010”. However, many remain confused about the implementation of the act and its complaints procedure.
To artistically illustrate the issue, USAID and Aurat Foundation organised an interactive theatre performance at the National Press Club on Wednesday. The attendees included journalists and Bahria University students.
The play began with a comical introduction to stereotypical male characters in society given names such as “pichal pera” (stalker) and “ocha boss” (perverted boss), drawing hysterical laughter from the audience.
Following this, the male characters formed a collective protest against the media for its negative portrayal of them, chanting the slogan “why can’t we have some fun,” as they went around giving lewd comments and inappropriate gestures to girls passing by.
The interactive aspect of the performance came to the fore when a girl from the audience was invited to play the friend of a female worker, reluctant to file a complaint against her boss fearing the repercussions of a possible job loss, often a reality in patriarchal societies.
The volunteer encouraged her colleague to consider filing the complaint, saying, “if you raise your voice now, many others will be able to do the same and the trend of harassment will end.”
Interestingly, a female member of the audience volunteered to play the role of a male worker who lent the girl moral support.
“I am ashamed that my male colleagues harassed you, you are like my sister — if you complain I will vouch for you,” she said.
Director of the play and employee at the Interactive Resource Centre Mohammad Wasim emphasised the need for more of such artistic depictions to raise awareness of critical issues.
“We need more advocacy events in Islamabad, especially for the youth,” he said.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 28th, 2013.
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