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Legislation against workplace harassment to cover Fata too

Legislation against workplace harassment to cover Fata too

PESHAWAR: The government has planned to extend the Protection against Harassment of Women at Workplace Act, 2010, to the Federally Administered Tribal Areas to ensure a safe and non-discriminatory working environment for the local womenfolk.

The sources told Dawn that the Directorate of Social Welfare Fata has prepared a summary for Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Governor Iqbal Zafar Jhagra to seek the approval of President Mamnoon Hussain to extend the law to all areas of Fata.

They said that would be the first pro-women law to be extended to Fata if the president signed the summary.

A relevant official said the directorate had finalised the summary and would put it up to the governor very soon to get the approval of the president.

He said extension of the act would not serve any purpose unless the government provided the required infrastructure in the tribal area to deal with the cases of harassment.

“The law will be of no use without providing the required infrastructure and facilities. The government has extended over 150 laws to Fata but majority of them are of no avail owing to non existence of infrastructure in the area,” he said.

The official said the government had extended Juvenile Justice Ordinance, 2000 in 2004, but no step had been taken so far.

He said there were no separate lockups in entire Fata for juvenile offenders.

Under the anti-harassment law, he said, the government would have to develop basic facilities and infrastructure in each tribal agency before extension of the law.

“Under the Frontier Crimes Regulation, the criminal cases are referred to jirga or council of elders, but you can’t refer cases of harassment to such forums,” he said.

The governor has already approved Women Empowerment and Protection Policy in 2014, which aims at creating safe and secure environment for women in Fata in all sphere of life.

Officials said that the document which recommended several steps including Fata council for the empowerment and protection of women did not see light of the day.

Under the Protection against Harassment of Women at Workplace Act, 2010, the government will appoint an ombudsman, who has been a judge of high court or is qualified to be appointed as a judge of the high court.

The ombudsman may recruit such staff as required to achieve the purposes of this law and the respective governments would provided finances.

The ombudsman will conduct enquire into complaint of any employee. The complainant has the option to prefer a complaint either to the ombudsman or the Inquiry committee. The ombudsman shall within three days of receiving a complaint issue a written show cause notice to the accused.

The law says each organisation shall constitute an inquiry committee within 30 days of the enactment of this act to enquire into complaints under this act. The committee shall consist of three members of whom at least one member shall be a woman.

The officials concerned said harassment cases might take place in Fata but there existed no mechanism to report them.

“There is no system to report cases of harassment from tribal area,” said another official.

Dawn

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