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Provinces urged to implement laws against harassment of women

ISLAMABAD: To eleminate the most furious type of harrasment ‘Sexual’, civil society on Saturday strongly demanded to appoint ombudsmen in all the provinces to protect and hearing cases of women against their harrasment at workplace.

While addressing a seminar arranged by Alliance Against Sexual Harassment (AASHA), human rights activist Dr Fouzia Saeed urged the provincial governments to take swift implementation of legislation to protect women against harassment.

AASA- a coalition of around a dozen civil society organisations is working to eliminate sexual harassment and to promote women’s rights. They called upon the provincial chief ministers to immediately apppoint ombudsmen in their respective provinces under law to hear and decide the complaints of women against their harassment at workplace. It was also learnt the members asked the chief ministers (CMs) to issue directives to all ministries, divisions and departments to enforce the law so that women of the country, struggling for decades, get a ray of hope to get their just rights. Terming devolution of various ministries to the provinces as a challenge, they stressed that the provinces must develop and demonstrate their capacity to cope up with challenge posed by autonomy. They also called for immediately meeting the operational requirements of the federal ombudsmen by providing her a suitable office and required staff on urgent basis. Ms Saeed, who is also chairperson of the National Implementation Watch Committee formed to oversee the progress on compliance of the law, said she was pleased with the pace of implemetnation. “No other law has been accmpanied by such awareness camapign and community efforts and therefore we have seen visible results in a short time period,” she remarked. She said almost all the federal ministries had implemented the law and a few remaining were in the process of doing the same.

She said the Punjab chief secretary had already issued directives to all the government departments to implement the law, form three member committees to probe into complaints of women against harassment and display code of conduct at the respective

workplaces at conspicuous places. She said the Sindh government was also following suit.a
Ms Saeed said that Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA), Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra), Higher Education Commission (HEC) and State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) had already implemented this law and written letters to the organisations that operate under them to enforce the law. She said the implementation committee would develop a complete database, based upon the information gathered through the regulatory bodies on the status of implementation of law, the number of complaints received in different organisations and other relevant matters.She said the committee was formed in May 2010 for two years and will thus cease to exist in May 2012. She hoped that the things would be institutionalised by then.

Source: Daily Times

Date:1/9/2011

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