Social stigmas: Few willing to admit being harassed

Published: December 12, 2013
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Sexual harassment laws not being properly implemented. DESIGN: MUHAMMAD SUHAIB / SAMRA AAMIR

Sexual harassment laws not being properly implemented. DESIGN: MUHAMMAD SUHAIB / SAMRA AAMIR

ISLAMABAD: 

A secure and safe working environment boosts the morale of a woman and gives her strength to grow in her professional career. However, in many instances, a woman who becomes victim of sexual harassment at the workplace hesitates to report it due to the social stigma attached to it.

This may partly be because of the non-implementation of the Protection against Harassment of Women at the Workplace Act 2010.

“I became victim of sexual harassment at my workplace, but I thought it better to quit my job rather than raise my voice against this, as everyone scared me that it would ruin my future,” said Sana*.

While talking to The Express Tribune, she said that when she shared her story with her colleagues, instead of supporting her, they started criticising her wardrobe choices.

“One of them said that it had happened because I did not cover my head,” she said.

“The international community, the government, the private sector and civil society must join hands to work together to let Pakistanis know that gender-based violence is a serious human rights crime,” US Embassy Public Affairs Counselor Angela Aggeler told The Express Tribune.

Activist Fouzia Saeed said that private organisations including banks have well incorporated the code of conduct for protection against harassment at workplace, but “the working environment for women at universities, media houses and civil society organsition is not up to the mark.

Roots School System CEO Faisal Mushtaq urged the need to include a subject in the school curriculum to educate students on how they could protect themselves from becoming a victim of sexual abuse.

“Parents should not have objections on teaching such things to their children at school level as it would help them protect their futures,” he said.

*Names changed to protect identity

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

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Reader Comments (2)

  • Palvasha von Hassell
    Dec 12, 2013 - 3:26PM

    Brave women like Sana and Fouzia Saeed need all the support they can get to fight the cheap sexual harrassment mentality, which is alive and kicking, not only in countries like Pakistan, but universally. Women are victims, either of the objectivizing of the female in Western societies, or of unjustified and repressive social norms. Both are ways to preserve or regain male domination. Civil society must constantly oppose this.

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  • Certitude
    Dec 12, 2013 - 4:58PM

    This society would forever be male dominated, you cannot fight biology, along with fighting the symptoms, rectify the root cause, educate the males, in general, as they are the potential future abusers.

    Food for thought….

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