The ‘islamic republic’ of Pakistan is a country where almost 93% of women have faced sexual violence of some sort, particularly in public places. A study about sexual harassment in the workplace reported that out of every 300 employed Pakistani women who faced harassment, some 35% were forced to keep quiet by their boss or colleague.
There are two pre-existing laws that govern these treacherous acts; Section 509 of the Criminal Penal Code and Protection Against Harassment of Women at the Workplace Act of 2010, but unfortunately not a lot is done to ensure that these are followed and perpetrators face the consequences.
Fortunately, we live in the age where people are actually being encouraged to come out and speak against these heinous actions. We no longer live in the world where such acts are swept under the rug and the public refuses to acknowledge them. The rise of the #MeToo movement has given women the courage to speak out against those who have done them wrong.
Just yesterday, 17th October 2018, Sindh cabinet brought forward the “Sindh protection against harassment of women at workplace act 2018”. This means staring at women, winking, using terms like ‘dear’ and ‘sweetie’, assaulting, inappropriate texting etc. are now to be declared criminal offenses. Failure to maintain a professional workplace environment can result in imprisonment of 3 years and a fine of up to Rs.500,000.
While this is all well and good, maximum emphasis needs to be placed on actually holding harassers responsible and putting an end to victim-blaming. The latter often results in women losing all their dignity and self-respect, often staying silent or even quitting their jobs despite not having done anything wrong.
As this news surfaced, Pakistanis reacted to this huge positive step forward in the most absurd of ways.
Some chose to crack extremely immature jokes showing how our general public still has a long way to go.
While others brought forward their own concerns regarding the consequences women should face in turn.
Thankfully, there were a few socially-aware individuals who used their voice to support the
bill and talked how proper implementation would prove to be greatly beneficial for our working women.
Sindh cabinet approved the ‘Sindh Protection Against Harassment of Women at Workplace Act 2018!
I hope it gets implemented in all the departments ASAP
And Authorities do take Action when Case is filed against no matter who pic.twitter.com/nrfgetx8KX
— NasreeN (@Nas_k27) October 16, 2018