Students identified gender segregation as a main factor behind sexual harassment.
In a two-day discussion forum held at Alliance against Sexual Harassment (AASHA) Secretariat, students from different universities debated the passage and implementation of the Sexual Harassment Bill 2010.
The sessions were coordinated by Salma Jabeen, Mehrgarh Graduate and Zulqarnain Asghar, a psychologist. The facilitators helped the students understand the importance of having state laws implemented to ensure safe working environment for the women.
While unearthing the cause behind the ‘social evil’ prevalent in public institutions and private places, the students were asked to share their understanding of sexual harassment. Reflecting their contextual understanding of the issue, they came up with varying causes which lead to such a behaviour.
Most of them were of the view that widespread illiteracy among women makes them vulnerable to violence and harassment. Others declared poverty as the main cause of harassment.
However, they managed to reach a consensus on gender segregation in schools, colleges, universities and work places as the main reason behind the ‘social ill’.
Salma Jabeen described the ‘taxonomy of sexual harassers’ explaining different behaviours of harassment. She asked the participants to launch a campaign against sexual harassment in their respective universities.
AASHA played a crucial role in drafting the sexual harassment bill and getting it passed from the parliament after going through strenuous lobbying with legislators. Now it heralds a campaign to ensure speedy and effective implementation of the Sexual Harassment Act.
Published in The Express Tribune, December 14th, 2010.