Domestic workers most vulnerable to harassment

Nurses and domestic workers most vulnerable to sexual harassment at workplace.

Express September 23, 2010

LAHORE: Nurses and domestic workers are most vulnerable to sexual harassment at workplace and should be aware about the Protection against Harassment of Women at the Workplace Bill to get rid of this problem, said speakers at a seminar on sexual harassment against women on Wednesday.

The Alliance Against Sexual Harassment (AASHA) organised a seminar at the Allama Iqbal Medical College (AIMC), which was the first academic institution to adopt the Protection Against Harassment of Women at Workplace Bill. It has also made internal committees to prevent harassment of its workers and students. AASHA programme director Maliha Hussain said that they had conducted a survey last year, which revealed that about 90 per cent of nurses and about 93 per cent of domestic women workers faced sexual harassment. She said that under the bill, women could complain about any ‘unwelcoming move’ by anyone at their workplace, and the office administration would have to take action within five weeks.

She said that the government had made the law and should implement it effectively in all private and government organisations. “Many women have sought protection against harassment under this law. This law doesn’t aim at penalising people, it aims at providing a good working environment,” she said. “In many cases women are hesitant to report their bosses or colleagues. They are afraid of being humiliated and in many cases losing their job. But this law gives complete protection to the women as complaints can also be filed confidentially,” she said.

She said that all organisations should make internal committees to monitor sexual harassment. “If grievances are not addressed by the internal committees, the police or AASHA legal aid cell can be contacted,” she added. AIMC principal Dr Javed Iqbal said that many women left their jobs due to workplace harassment. Instead of quitting, he suggested that they use the new law.

Published in The Express Tribune, September 23rd, 2010.

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