A senior female warden, formerly posted at Central Jail Peshawar, has come forward with accusations of sexual harassment in the workplace.
Speaking at Peshawar Press Club on Thursday, Senior Warden Shahzadi Rabia alleged that Central Jail Peshawar Superintendent Masudur Rehman and his son Suhrab, a student, have on more than one occasion attempted to elicit sexual acts from her. When she refused, they posted her to Swabi from Peshawar as a punishment for refusing.
“I am not alone,” said Rabia. “I know other women face the same difficulties.” Rabia said she belonged to the city but over the past five years has been transferred to various districts, including Charsadda, Mardan, and Swabi because she never compromised on her principles.
“I received many threats to pull out of this press conference,” she said. “The superintendent has been [manipulative] so I do not come forward and decided to go public,” she said. “I am willing to make the sacrifice needed to put this matter to rest – even suicide is better than living under the threat of sexual harassment.”
Rabia said women inmates get preferential treatment based on their looks. “The beautiful ones get cell phones and other facilities; the superintendent calls them into his office for hours to gossip.”
Rabia demanded Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan take action against the jail superintendent for sexual intimidation and then, in revenge, cancelling her transfer orders back to her hometown. She threatened to set herself on fire outside CM House if justice is not served.
“We used our right to vote to bring the PTI into power to bring change and get rid of the rotten systems but neither the system has changed nor has the mindset of police officers,” said Rabia.
She appealed to the chief justice of the Peshawar High Court, chief minister and the chief of police to hold an independent enquiry.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 25th, 2014.