Sexual harassment: No means no

Published: November 26, 2010
It exists everywhere, say women, adding that the law against it needs to be made more effective.

It exists everywhere, say women, adding that the law against it needs to be made more effective.

KARACHI: What amounts to fun for some men who tease their female colleagues at work in an inappropriate manner, is in fact an ordeal for the women. Journalist Sabine Agha, who battles with this “parasite” every day, says that she takes it as an “untold insult”.

In Agha’s opinion, “At a workplace bosses, supervisors and colleagues [think of] working women as available, a commodity God made for the fulfillment of man’s ‘evil’ desires.”

Thousands of women in Pakistan battle sexual harassment at their workplaces as well as on the streets on a day-to-day basis. NJ, who also faced sexual harassment at her workplace, said that her boss’s advances had become so distasteful that she had to quit her job. “My boss asked me for sexual favours. He started touching me and one day he tried to rape me,” she said.

While NJ decided to stay at home after the incident, Mahin, another victim of sexual harassment, said that while she may change jobs, she will not quit working altogether. “My boss asked me to get in touch with another man who would pay Rs100,000 for every insurance policy I sold. But this man had other plans. He offered me a million rupees for sexual favours,” she said.

Workplaces are not the only areas where women have to deal with sexual harassment. While travelling in buses, RB said that she has had to face taunts from leering men despite being seated in the women’s compartment.

“Men pass indecent remarks at women. They even touch us through the dividing grille. If we complain to the driver, they ask these men to get off the bus. Sometimes men throw the blame [back] on the women themselves,” she said,

Even though the government has passed a law against sexual harassment at workplaces, many women claimed that they knew nothing about it. “I don’t know about any law,” said NJ. “If we go to the police, they too harass us.”

Men should keep in mind that if their sisters, daughters and wives work, they too may face harassment, said Sarem Burney of the Ansar Burney Trust, which was set up to help victimised women. Sexual harassment victims felt that the government should treat the issue in a manner similar to how they treat threats of attack on the country as both “threaten the state by chewing up the country’s economy and keeping its people poor”.

(Names of the women have been changed)

Published in The Express Tribune, November 26th, 2010.

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Reader Comments (6)

  • Amina Ansari
    Nov 26, 2010 - 12:23PM

    kindly contact the Mission Centenarian for elite protection against these men. The flaw here is that the Mission only serves people belonging to Abrahamic religions, which the consider as superior to others so if say the above said victims are Hindu or Buddhist, then they will not be assisted.

    Additionally, those belonging to the sub divisions of said Abrahamic religions will not be assited. these include but are not limited to orthodox, conservative & reformists of each category.

    Only those of pure faith and bahavior of the religions respective Prophet are permitted elite protection as this is free and has no chance of error.

    Please have the women being abused contact anyone educated+elite they may know, it is one of the ways of getting in touch with the MDRecommend

  • muhammad aamir
    Nov 26, 2010 - 12:53PM

    in our Islamic republic of pakistan there’s no concept of sexual harassment in any class or segment.The misogynistic mentality is the same for an illeterate labourer & a chartered accountant or doctor.It’s a cultural problem,women in our land are only to be viewed as sisters,mothers,daughters or wives,all other women seen dayto day are to be viewed as sex objects only.
    Our society needs to accept women as equal beings who can have professional careers also.Recommend

  • SA
    Nov 26, 2010 - 1:06PM

    I wish this note really makes a difference to men!Recommend

  • Ali Hassan
    Nov 26, 2010 - 7:29PM

    Sad, but this is true, I do not think legislation can change this, this can only be changed by education and women empowerment and some economic independence in general.Recommend

  • Nov 26, 2010 - 8:13PM

    this an extremely sad but highly valid, and this harassment doesn’t only starts at workplaces, it starts from the point a girl steps out of her home to go to college, university etc. from there on it continues. and such vultures don’t even respect the fact that those girls are the age of their daughters or even if they are with families. its becoming a true menace of our society which needs to be cured !!Recommend

  • Naushad Shafkat
    Nov 26, 2010 - 10:31PM

    “No means no”? Heard this sometime back: When a diplomat says ‘yes’ he means ‘perhaps’, when he says ‘perhaps’ he means ‘No’ and if he says ‘No’ he is no diplomat! When a lady says ‘No’ she means ‘perhaps’, if she says ‘perhaps’ she means ‘yes’ and if she says ‘yes’ she is no lady!!!Recommend

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