The head of the UN climate change panel has resigned amid allegations of sexual harassment. Rajendra Pachauri has tendered his resignation, saying that he was unable to provide strong leadership — and the phenomenon of workplace harassment claims another high-profile scalp. The complainant is a 29-year-old woman working in the IPCC Delhi office, who is saying that the harassment included unwanted emails, and text and phone messages. Harassment, usually of women but not exclusively so, is rife in workplaces the world over. No matter that legislation is in place, that offenders are named and shamed and in parts of the world prosecuted, jailed even — workplace harassment shows no sign of fading away.
The high-profile offenders hit the headlines, sometimes spectacularly so such is their fall from grace, with Dominic Strauss-Kahn once a contender for a high office in France and a past managing director of the IMF being another example. But most of those doing the harassment get away with it as those being harassed are frightened for the security of their jobs, their promotion prospects or simply the shame that exposing their harasser would bring upon themselves. Mr Pachauri denies any wrongdoing and claims that his email was hacked. Pending an inquiry, it is impossible to know either way, but his resignation probably draws a line under the matter and an honourable career closes with an indelible stain on his legacy. There is a gradual awakening to the necessity to address the issue of workplace harassment by organisations and in the public sector — the publishers of this newspaper have a clear and active internal policy in this matter — but in the overbearing patriarchal culture of Pakistan, progress is slow. There is no protection for those who work in the fields or the brick kilns, the factories or the innumerable small offices where women are increasingly employed. There is scant recourse to law for those who are harassed and many thousands suffer in silence. Expect no early change.