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Call to end workplace harassment

KARACHI, June 20: Speakers at a meeting have demanded of the government to formulate specific laws to check the growing incidence of sexual harassment at workplace.

Speaking at the programme titled, “Situation of violence against women”, organised by the Aurat Foundation, they maintained that the harassment cases were on the rise in the absence of any specific laws on the issue.

MPA Humera Alwani disclosed that she was working on a draft bill, which would soon be tabled in the assembly so that a law specific to the issue of women harassment at workplace could be formulated.

She recalled the incident of a woman member, who was harassed in the assembly a couple of years ago, and said it was comprehendible how secure a woman in the street was. She said she carried out field visits and met women from different walks of life to give a final shape to the draft bill.

Stressing on effective enforcement of the existing laws, Khalida Qadri said that drivers and conductors of public transport allowed men in female compartments in violation of laws preventing this practice. The situation worsened during the rush hours when the entire female compartments were taken over by men, while the practice was ignored by traffic wardens, she regretted.

“The moment a girl leaves her home for an educational institution or her workplace she becomes vulnerable to the harassment,” said Mumtaz Shamim.

Hina Tabassum said that the women, who faced all forms of harassment, usually did not inform their family about that as they feared they would be asked to quit job or leave education.

Lala Hassan suggested that committees to be headed by a civil judge be set up at the union council, taluka and town levels with a 50 per cent women representation. The committees be empowered to register complaints and take or recommend action against the culprits, it was suggested.

Malika Khan said even worse was the situation in rural areas where majority of women were less aware of their rights.

Musifara Jamal, Feroza Azmat and others also spoke.
Source: Dawn
Date:6/21/2008

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