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Has no woman ever complained of workplace harassment?

KARACHI: The participants of a consultative meeting on women’s rights were shocked to know on Monday that none of the provincial government’s 18 complaint centres had ever received a complaint from women about workplace harassment.

They took exception to the claims made by some government officials that the complaint committees had been constituted in 18 provincial government departments, each comprising a chairperson of BPS 19 official.

“I am amazed as why till date no such committee received any complaint although personally we do come across hundreds of women complainants,” said MPA Nusrat Sehar Abbasi from Khairpur.

When informed that the complainant can directly approach the committee with her complainant and need not to forward her grievances through her immediate boss, the MPA said that these aspects must be duly highlighted.

The participants of the consultative meeting organised by the Sindh Women Development Department said that the provincial governments needed to formulate policy rules for the implementation of women-friendly laws in the country,

The meeting was chaired by Provincial Minister for Women Development department, Tauqir Fatima Bhutto and attended by female members of the Sindh Assembly.

They sought concrete measures for the implementation of laws for the protection of the marginalised sections of the society.

“Communicating the laws to the public is important so that women and other concerned sections should know about the modes of their protection and the rules may also act as source of deterrence for the perpetrators of the crime,” said the minister.

The participants, with the assistance of law and women development departments’ officials, discussed in detail the private bills pending before the Sindh Assembly since 2008.

The deliberation revealed that five of these bills, including Prevention of Gender Discrimination 2008, Domestic Violence Against Women and Children Prevention and Protection Bill 2008, Gender Harassment at Work Place Bill 2008, The Women Protection Against Sexual Harassment at Work Place Bill 2008 and Anti-Domestic Violence (to protect the victims of the Domestic Violence Bill) 2008, had been fully or partially adopted by parliament.

There was an urgent need to ensure their implementation in letter and spirit in every public and private sector organisation, said the minister.

Women MPAs, including Nusrat Sehar Abbasi (PML-F), Humaira Alwani (PPP) and Zarine Majeed (MQM), enquired the government officials present in the meeting about measures adopted for the implementation of the bill regarding workplace harassment of women.

Minister Tauqir Fatima Bhutto informed the participants that the Sindh Women Development Department (WDD) has got translated the code of conduct, an integral part of the law, into Urdu and Sindhi.

These have not only been distributed among all the government departments and institutions, including the Sindh Assembly, but also put on display at a prominent site of each and every office, she said.

The minister agreed that similar measures were required for public awareness about the laws introduced for their benefit, with specific reference to women and children.

She said that the WDD had also launched a public awareness campaign against domestic violence from November 25 to December 10.

Fatima Tauqir Bhutto said that all women members of the Sindh Assembly in close coordination with the caucus of women parliamentarians of Pakistan would immediately focus on the Bill on Standardisation of Age of Marriage, Recognition and Protection of Home-Based Workers and Prevention of Women Trafficking.

A representative of the Sindh Law Department assured that the draft laws forwarded by women members of the assembly, with prior approval of the chief minister of Sindh, would be taken up, for vetting, by the law department on urgent basis.

The participants of the meeting also included former judge of the Sindh High Court (SHC), Majida Rizvi, Advocate Rubina Brohi and others.
Source: The News