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Series of nationwide exhibitions launched

By: Asma Ghani

ISLAMABAD: To celebrate the 10 years of working women’s movement, Alliance Against Sexual Harassment (AASHA) launched a nationwide exhibition in Islamabad on Wednesday at the PNCA wherein women who spearheaded the movement also shared their memories and problems.

AASHA initiated a movement on the issue of sexual harassment in 2001 and with the passage of the anti-sexual harassment laws in 2010. AASHA has been engaging in strategic interventions for implementing the laws through seminars, conferences, working women’s assemblies, media campaigns, capacity building.

MNA Bushra Gohar speaking on the event said the law can easily be misused by both the parties so the inquiry committees and the office of the ombudspersons should be strengthened so that they can take neutral decisions. She said the investigation should be done thoroughly to ascertain the truth and the innocent should not be punished.

She said the Code of Conduct should be displayed in the organisations so that the people know whom they should contact in such situations. She regretted that the big organisations like PTV and even in National Assembly she did not saw the display of the Code of Conduct that every organisation bound to display according to the law.

Kishwar Naheed, poet and director Hawwa Crafts, was of the view that the way this legislation has been implemented all other laws should also be implemented and there should be an institution to monitor the complete implementation of the anti-harassment law.

Anis Haroon, Chairperson National Commission for Women, said only at the Federal level an ombudsperson has been appointed that should also be appointed at provincial levels.

“There are problems at the committees level also, as the committees consist of three members and only one member is woman among them and at that level as well women face intimidation. As the committees are formed from within the organisations so they can easily be influenced.”

MNA Shehnaz Wazir Ali said the way through lobbying and constant efforts the anti-sexual harassment law got passed and other important bills including home based women workers’ bill and anti acid burning bill should also be got passed from the Parliament as the passage of anti harassment bill is indeed a model for all.

Aqsa Khan, Executive Director Women’s Organisation for Rights and Development (WORD) elaborated “through these nationwide exhibitions we will strive to strengthen support for working women and victims that come forward with their cases as well as changing perceptions of shifting the blame from the victim to the perpetrator.” Dr Fouzia Saeed, pioneer of AASHA movement and Chairperson National Implementation Watch Committee also spoke on the event.

The exhibitions will also be held in other parts of the country such as Quetta, Hyderabad, Karachi, Faisalabad, Rawalpindi, Sialkot Peshawar, Lahore and Multan. The exhibits included pictures, key messages, video presentation, and awareness material with important messages.

Source: The Nation