Islamabad: 41 sexual harassment cases reported to federal ombudsman
ISLAMABAD: Since its inception in July 2011, 41 cases of sexual harassment have been reported in the Federal Ombudsman for Protection against Harassment of Women at Workplace. Among them, a total of 35 cases have been disposed of by the authority.
The information was shared by Fazia Abid, Deputy Secretary at the Federal Ombudsman for Protection against Harassment of Women at Workplace, in a meeting held to review the implementation of anti-sexual harassment legislation on Thursday.
The Protection of Women against Harassment at Workplace Act makes it mandatory for the management of the organisations to adopt the Code of Conduct and form a three-member inquiry committee to deal with the complaints of sexual harassment.
In case the perpetrator is too senior or is the owner of the business himself and the victim is not satisfied with the decision of the committee or feels that the committee cannot do justice, he or she can go to the Federal Ombudsperson. Victims can also directly file their complaint at the ombudsperson.
Sharing the performance of the ombudsperson in this regard, Fauzia said that the website for ombudsperson is almost complete and will start working shortly. “We expect to receive more cases through the website in future,” she said. Fauzia stressed the need to create awareness about the presence of this institution for the protection of harassment victims.
The meeting was attended by stakeholders from different public and private organisations. They shared their experiences and challenges faced by their organisations in the implementation process. The participants stressed the need to raise fine for harassers and suggested advanced training on collecting evidence of the incident.
“The evidence collection is found to be the biggest challenge in the implementation process,” said Sumaira Ishfaq from Potohar Organisation for Development Advocacy (Poda) while sharing her experience in the field. She said that the law has broken myths that revolve around the issue of sexual harassment in the society and has provided peace of mind to women especially those belonging to working class.
Yasmeen Kareem from Rural Support Program said that the Anti Harassment Act should also be extended to Gilgit-Baltistan. She informed the participants that after provincial autonomy, a resolution in this regard has to be moved in the Provincial Assembly of Gilgit-Baltistan. “The law will be implemented only after the resolution is approved by the assembly members.”
Maliha Hussain from Mehergarh informed the participants that process of the establishment of Provincial Implementation Watch Committees on Anti Harassment Legislation is almost complete. She said that the implementation of law is slow in media, as only three media groups have adopted the law and code of conduct in their respective organisations.