Many women in our society are the sole breadwinners in their families. In their struggle to support their families and to provide them with a reasonable standard of living, they step out of their homes but end up becoming the victims of sexual harassment.
Threatened and harassed by their workplace colleagues, bearing the fear of losing their jobs in mind, women often do not have the courage to report such cases. In order to curb these despicable actions by men, which are spreading like a deadly virus in our society, the government needs to sit up and ACT. Passing a law against sexual harassment at the workplace (2010) will not suffice. Criticism is heaped whenever there is discussion on implementation of this act. As educated citizens, we should play our part to enforce this important legislation.
In order to prove harassment, you need to have a series of rigorous sessions to rule out even an iota of doubt about both the victim and the accused. In most instances, such cases are unheard of or are brushed under the carpet to save the reputation of the institution.
It is thus incumbent upon every organisation and institution to create awareness amongst both the genders to curb sexual harassment by forming committees. The committee should constitute a panel usually consisting of three members preferably from the senior management, one senior representative of the concerned department and one member from the human resource department to take action against the notorious act. After a case is reported, both parties should be heard separately without biasness towards any gender. Sexual harassment does not constitute only the touching or making of sexual advances. It has many different aspects to it, such as sharing of explicit content which makes you uncomfortable, uncalled for spoken or written words etc. It is advised that the victim and accused should be supported by all forms of documentary evidence in the shape of messages, texts or pictures to institute a strong claim. If found guilty, he/she should be fired from the organisation right away. Social security numbers need to be introduced wherein such cases can be reported at all levels. In this regard the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority is playing a pivotal role to redress this issue and create awareness amongst women where they can lodge a complaint against this issue on www.fos-pah.gov.pk.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 6th, 2014.
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