By Sadia Wali-Badar
Gender discrimination and sexual harassment have become a matter of concern in organizations where men and women work together. Many working women have complained about the behaviour of their colleagues and bosses which affects their performances in the office. Under such a situation, work environment becomes tense and uncomfortable for women.
Sexual harassment at workplace violates the fundamental rights of women. According to a research by an NGO, 80 to 90 per cent of working women face sexual harassment.
Narrating her ordeal, a 23-year-old nurse said a doctor followed her everywhere in the hospital at night when no senior doctor was on duty. He passed comments and at times even tried to touch her.
She said he also attempted to enter her hostel room. The girl was so frightened that she could not make an effort to report this indecent behaviour to the authorities. Ultimately, she was left with no option but to resign from her job.
Aliya, who worked in a bank, had to pass through a torturous experience. She said the bank manager often called her to his room and commented on her appearance and looks.
He also invited her for lunch and dinner which she always declined. When the situation worsened, she talked to the general manager, who instead of taking action against the manager, blamed her and terminated her services.
Maryia, a sales girl who worked in a pharmaceutical company for three years, while sharing her experience, said the first two years were peaceful. But then a sales boy joined them. She said she felt uncomfortable with him because he used vulgar language. The authorities turned a deaf ear to her protest and dismissed her from the job.
A similar story was reported by a female receptionist who worked in a hotel. She had to carry out her duty at night. A guest was staying in that hotel since one month.
The whole night he just sat in the lounge and gazed at her. One night he invited her to spend the night with him. This was the limit for her and she resigned from her job the very next day.
Razia, a maid, was assaulted by the owner of the house where she worked. There have been many cases where women, who have been victims of sexual harassment, refuse to share their experience with others.
In Pakistan, some private organizations and NGOs have raised their voice against this issue. They have included provisions in their policies regarding gender discrimination and have created awareness among the masses to deal with this issue seriously.
The government has emphasized on the implementation of code of conduct on gender justice in every organization. The code is formed on the principles of equal opportunity for men and women and their right to earn livelihood without fear of abuse and harassment.
This code adheres to the human rights declaration and United Nations convention for elimination of all forms of discrimination against women. The reality is that if people follow the principles of the Holy Quran, self-respect of women will remain secure and both men and women will work together in a cordial environment where dignity of each employee is ensured.