Workplace hostilities: Women probation officers allege workplace harassment

Bushra and Sana claim videos were made by a hidden camera in the washroom.

Umer Farooq August 11, 2013
Bushra and Sana claim videos were made by a hidden camera in the washroom.DESIGN: MUHAMMAD SUHAIB / SAMRA AAMIR


The city’s women probation officers have requested the government to conduct an inquiry against a male colleague under the Harassment Act 2010 for recording objectionable videos in the ladies bathroom.

Sana* and Bushra* of the Reclamation and Probation Department allegedly caught an assistant at the department, Bakhtyar, red-handed in June, while he was attempting to install a pen-camera inside the washroom. Upon playing the recording the women found the camera had filmed them and another employee, Shumaila* while they were using the bathroom.

The probation officers told The Express Tribune they attempted to bury the issue keeping in view Pukhtun norms and destroyed the camera along with its memory card.

“Bakhtyar offered an apology and thus the whole office came to know about the matter so we went on a seven-day leave,” said Sana. She added upon their return they requested their seniors to transfer Bakhtyar however their concerns were not addressed.

According to Sana, the accused colleague had often tried to enter the bathroom before or after someone would use it.

Bushra, the other complainant said, “How are women supposed to do their jobs when they are being harassed in such a manner, particularly in a government department?”

She added she wanted Bakhtyar to be punished in accordance with the Harassment Act.

“The probation department is now victimising me for raising my voice. I have been transferred to Kohat despite the fact that I am single and employed for Peshawar Zone. I am being pressured to stay quiet and even my salary has been deducted for the seven-day leave,” Bushra claimed.

Both Bushra and Sana accused the Reclamation and Probation Department Director Wasima Jamil responsible for the delay in conducting an inquiry.

“She has been protecting him which forced us to file an application at the Home and Tribal Affairs Department and seek an inquiry against Bakhtyar,” said Sana.

When The Express Tribune contacted the probation department, a high-ranking official requesting anonymity said, “This is just a drama being staged to bring back a former director who was transferred to the information department,” he claimed.

“The complainants did not show any proof to the department head which they need to in order to take the necessary course of action,” he said, adding the incident Bakhtyar is accused of does not fall under the Harassment Act.

“If they had any proof, a video or any such evidence, they should have added it to the case file. Their accusations are false,” he reiterated.

Another committee member probing the case at the home department made it clear the issue does not fall within sections of the Harassment Act, adding all proof has been destroyed but since Bakhtyar has offered an apology, it shows something was there.

The Protection against Harassment of Women at the Workplace Act 2010 states all institutions must form inquiry committees of at least three members each including one woman to probe any complaints received and to give their findings within 30 days to the concerned authority that will award recommend penalties.

*Names have been changed to protect identity

Published in The Express Tribune, August 12th, 2013.