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Two officials of Sindh health department found guilty of sexual harassment

KARACHI: In second such decision, an anti-harassment ombudsman has found two officers of the Sindh health department guilty of harassing their female colleague.

Official sources said on Thursday that the Sindh Ombudsman for the Protection against Harassment of Women at the Workplace imposed a fine of Rs100,000 on one accused and stopped for three years the promotion of the other after a two-year-long process.

They said it was a second of its kind decision in a month against government officials on harassment charges.

The ombudsman pronounced the verdict at his office in the presence of an accused, lawyer for the second accused and the female complainant.

They said in March 2018 a female officer had filed an application against Dr Iqbal Hussain Chandio, the provincial director of the national maternal, neonatal and child health programme (MNCHP), and Dr Ashique Hussain Shah, monitoring and evaluation officer of the same programme, for alleged sexual harassment.

The ombudsman heard both sides and found the duo guilty.

“In the sequel of the discussion of the facts and circumstances narrated supra, I am of the considered view that complainant has established her allegations of causing sexual harassment, mental agony and creating hostile environment against both accused person as envisaged under Section 2(h) of the [Protection against Harassment of Women at the Workplace] Act 2010,” the ombudsman’s decision said.

“Consequently, accused Dr Iqbal Hussain Chandio is penalised under Section 4(4)(i)(d) of the Act, 2010 to pay a fine of Rs100,000 as compensation to the complainant within 30 days from passing of this order through the office of this forum.”

The allegations of the complainant, who is also an officer of the provincial health department, were also established during the process against the other officer.

“Simultaneously, accused Dr Ashique Hussain Shah is penalised under Section 4(4)(i)(b) of the Act, and his promotion is withheld for three years as and when it is matured and his case for next promotion is placed before the Departmental Promotion Committee for first time as per procedure after passing this order.”

Earlier this month, the Sindh ombudsman had ordered dismissal from services of the security head of the National Institute of Cardio­vascular Diseases and his two subordinates after finding them guilty of harassing their female colleagues during a detailed investigation into the charges against them.

Parliament had passed a law relating to harassment at the workplace in 2009 and then president Asif Ali Zardari signed it in 2010. In July 2012, the Sindh government appointed a retired district and sessions judge as provincial ombudsman, becoming the first province in the country to provide a legal forum to women enabling them to lodge complaints against sexual harassment at workplace.