Sexual harassment is toxic to society. It includes attempted rape or sexual assault, Unwanted pressure for sexual favors, Unwanted deliberate touching, leaning over, cornering, or pinching. Unwanted sexual looks or gestures.
Sexual harassment may occur in a variety of circumstances and in places as varied as factories, schools, colleges, the theater. Often, the perpetrator has or is about to have power or authority over the victim (owing to differences in social, political, educational, or employment relationships as well as in age). Harassment relationships are specified in many ways:
The perpetrator can be anyone, such as a client, a co-worker, a parent or legal guardian, a relative, a teacher or professor, a student, a friend, or a stranger.
Harassment can occur in varying locations, in schools, colleges, workplaces, in public, and in other places.
Politicians said they are routinely criticized for their appearance — they must not look too feminine since that’s not associated with leadership, nor too masculine since that’s not their lot. Being perceived as usurping power in a man’s world makes them fair game, they said. Even legislative assemblies in which pro-women laws are sanctified are not safe from everyday sexism.
A law unto themselves
One lawyer talked of misbehavior in her profession: “My [former] boss, an influential former Senator, and lawyer-politician made unwanted sexual advances, told me that at the civil court’s women lawyers are sold for Rs500 and that he had slept with many ‘pretty women parliamentarians’. Once he tried to hug me, and when I told him specifically that this was not okay, he said his last employee was a tomboy and never hesitated to hug him. I left that law chamber.”
Recalling her early days, another lawyer wrote of a senior colleague, a son of a high court judge, who would send her dozens of inappropriate, late-night text messages.
“I never replied and would greet him the next day at work, pretending they had never happened. … The firm had no anti-harassment policy or procedure … I was made to believe that this was a rite of passage and that the messages would stop. … After I quit, I received another text from him calling me a slut.”
The fierce backlash to Pakistan’s #MeToo movement
In Pakistan, #MeToo has faced an uphill battle from the outset. Even as rights groups say sexual and domestic violence against women is endemic, victims who report incidents are often treated like criminals and blamed for their assaults. Justice can be hard to come by in a country where an estimated 1,000 women are killed each year by their families over damaged honor, including violations like clapping and singing with boys. Feminism meanwhile is widely dismissed as a “Western concept,” political party.
- The first piece of advice is not to quit your job
- The second is to record/compile evidence (messages/screenshots) of what has happened to you and formally complain to the organization’s management. Under the Protection Against Harassment of Women at the Workplace Act, 2010, your organization should have a three-member committee (one member of whom must be a woman) tasked with looking into such cases. Take your complaint to them.
Be explicit about what has happened and what you are going through when interviewed by the committee. If you are unsatisfied with the internal investigation into your complaint, and still feel harassed or inadequately protected at work – or you believe your case has been unfairly dealt with – it is your right to approach the provincial ombudsperson for sexual harassment with your complaint. The ombudsperson is legally mandated to conduct an investigation into your case and come up with a judgment.
Badlay Ga Pakistan’s mission is to create social awareness among masses that are blinded by their self-interest and don’t see the impact of their actions.