Sexual harassment is inappropraite sexual behaviour, that makes a person feel offended and humiliated. Sexual harrasment could be verbal or physical. Women experience more sexual harassment as comapred to men, especially in the workplace.
Women are socialized to suffer in silence. Men, on the other hand, consider themselves more powerful than women. Most people don’t report sexual harassment out of fear of humiliation and to preserve their Islamic modesty.
It is a prohibited act under the Equal Opportunity Act 2010.
Sexual harrasement can be identified by following signs:
- Inappropriate staring
- Gender related comments
- Unwanted physical contact
- Interference in work performance
- Body shaming and mockery
- Physical assault
- Promising of awards in exchange for sexual favours
- Sharing inappropriate content (text, images and videos)
Sexual harrasment, abuse and discrimation is the most ignored and unsolved issue in Pakistan. Due to legal and social pressure, women usually don’t came out and demand strict actions against the harraser.
At workplace, they are usually convinced by their collegues and bossess to keep quiet. The reason could be fear of loosing job or losing respect in society. Some females, especially the sole earners have to bear harrasment for the sake of money.
The perpetrators of sexual harassment take advantage of their high authoritative positions. The bitter truth is that they get away with it easily because the victims do not raise their voices, and the unreported acts of harassment actually motivate the harasser to repeat his actions. That is why women face harassment at workplaces.
Even at universities and colleges, female students are harrased by professors for getting good grades. Students usually keep themselves silent as they don’t want jeoparadize their careers. These are the main obstruction in implications of harrasment laws. At Islamabad’s Bahria College, female students accused a biology professor Saadat Bashir for inappropriately touching and passing sleazy comments at them during the practical exam.
Mukhtaran Mai’s case and the case of alleged killing of women in Kohistan area of Balochistan are well known examples of sexual harrasment victims, whom nobody helped. Harrasment allegations against Punjab University’s Vice Chancellor by Law College lecturer, Khujista Rehan clearly demonstrates the illegal use of power by the VC.
Sometimes sexual harrasment is used as a victim card as in case of Meesha Shafi, a well known celeb to defame a singer Ali Zafar as in country like Pakistan, this issue can destroy someone’s professional reputation for life.
Following steps should be taken to against workplace harrasment:
- Be confident enough to protect and defend themselves against harrasment.
- Make yourself known to anti-sexual harassment policies at workplaces.
- Try to record the immoral acts of the harrasers.
- Report to the organizations fighting against workplace harrasment in Pakistan.
Effective steps to protect women from violence. We need to create an environment free of harassment. There should be severe punishments for the violation.
Author: Sana Khalid