Islamabad: 100 per cent workingwomen face sexual harassment
ISLAMABAD: Research has shown that in our society, 100 per cent of women belonging to all sorts of backgrounds face sexual harassment in one form or the other. Dr. FauziaSaeed stated this while addressing a big gathering of working women from all parts of the country at the Alliance Against Sexual Harassment at Workplace (AASHA) assembly on Sunday. Tributes were paid to Benazir Bhutto at the outset. An annual event of AASHA, the assembly was addressed by successful workingwomen including renowned poetess KishwarNaheed, MNA Doniya Aziz and Senator SeemiSiddiqi. They shared their experiences with the participants and guided them on how to deal with the issue. Describing the resentment faced by women on reserved seats from the male Parliamentarians, Doniya said that the common impression was that women on reserved seats were not that capable as they came into the assembly without contesting proper election. “We had to put in a lot of effort to prove our worth in the assembly,” she added.
To make a big change acceptable to the society, she said that there was a need to deal with reactions more tactfully. She said that confronting men to tackle harassment sometimes serves their purpose as they enjoy the stories that circulate after the incident. “Women need to use their intelligence for judging what kind of reaction is appropriate at what time,” she said.
Appreciating the bill on sexual harassment at workplaces that has recently been approved by the cabinet, she said that the basic challenge lies with changing the mindset of the society. “The bill can only solve 10 per cent of the problem whereas 90 per cent of it can only be addressed by changing the common mindset,” she said.
Terming it a great success of women Parliamentarians, Doniya said that women caucus would be able to effectively address the issues faced by women in all sectors. “We took women police as our first project.” “As a result of taking up this issue up at the Parliament level, the police department has agreed to provide 50 more cars to women police and would also construct a building for them in the near future,” she said.
Urging women to stay professionally sound in whatever field they are, Kishwar Naheed said that when professional women look for excuses to work less, they deliver a wrong message to others. “Asking for favours eventually leads to exploitation.” She said that women should not give up their professional growth due to any kind of harassment.
Participants listened with great interest about the hurdles Kishwar faced in her professional life as well as in her journey in literature and the way she was always able to cross them successfully. “Hard work and professionalism were always my biggest allies,” she said with pride.
Seemi Siddiqi said that women at her level also faced certain kinds of harassment but it was not too open. “You have to read between the lines,” she said, adding that behaviour and appearance of women also counts. “It is unfortunate that even those who are particular about their behaviour and dress also face harassment.”
For the effective implementation of the upcoming bill on sexual harassment, she said that there was a need to create awareness among men as well. She said that sometimes men also faced harassment from women or sometimes even from their male colleagues.
In another session, the participants shared their experiences with each other and held open discussion on sexual harassment in factories, agriculture sector, work places and public areas.
Earlier, through a beautiful and well-directed stage play, Bedari depicted different forms of harassment characters in the society.