Gender issues: ‘Reporting workplace harassment is difficult, but not impossible’

Ombudswoman tells women to file complaints on plain paper.

Our Correspondent July 04, 2013
“The first and the most difficult step is to raise your voice. But it is not impossible,” says Mira Phailbus. PHOTO: FILE


Speakers at a consultation here on Wednesday stressed the need for encouraging and empowering them to report harassment at workplace.

The session titled: Protection against Harassment of Women at Workplace was organised by a non government organisation at the Town Hall.

Presiding over the consultation, Ombudswoman Mira Phailbus said that the government was determined to take stern action against harassment of women. She urged working women to report harassment and to raise their voice.

“The first and the most difficult step is to raise your voice. But it is not impossible.” She said women could file complaints on a plain paper at the office of the ombudswoman in Lahore. She assured the women that immediate notice would be taken on their complaints and they would be provided relief.

She urged non government organisations to create awareness among working women and enlighten them about the social and legal aspects of the problem.

She said most cases of harassment went unreported because women were not aware of their rights. This gave the harassers the room to blackmail them, she added.

She said, “It is regrettable that while women now make up a considerable part of the workforce, they still face several challenges. Harassment is the biggest of them.”

She also asked non government organisations and companies to ensure that male staff was officially required to respect their women colleagues. She said they (male staff) should be told about this at the time of joining and in meetings especially scheduled for the cause. She said companies should promptly initiate disciplinary and compliance cases against harassment suspects and suspend those found guilty.

Earlier, Deputy Director (Protocol) Ehsan Ghauri said that an Anti-Harassment Committee had been set up in all districts. He said those in charge of offices at every departments had been directed to implement the law for elimination of harassment at workplace.

Published in The Express Tribune, July 4th, 2013.


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