ROUND TABLE CONSULTATION ON SEXUAL HARASSMENT AT WORK PLACE
“ROADBLOCKS TO IMPLEMENTATION”
A round-table consultation on the theme of ‘Road Blocks to Implementation of Sexual Harassment at Workplace’ was organised by the Asma Jahangir Legal Aid Cell on January 26 2019 at Faletti’s Hotel.
A large number of rights activists, women parliamentarians, Federal Ombudsperson Kashmala Tariq, Punjab Commission on the Status of Women (PCSW) Chairperson Fozia Viqar, memebers of the National Assembly Ms. Bushra Anjum Butt, Ms. Uzma Kardar, Ms. Sadia Sohail, Human Rights Lawyers, participated in the event.
After a discussion spanning over four hours, the participants concluded that the name of the act should be amended to “the protection against sexual harassment” instead of “sexual harassment at workplace 2010” and the burden of proof should explicitly be civil.
Furthermore, the criteria for appointing ombudsperson for sexual harassment should be uniform and the person should have a legal background.
The keynote speaker, Federal Ombudsperson Kashmala Tariq said no woman was safe even for those who belonged to the legal fraternity.
She said the definitions of the laws where only man and woman were mentioned and it should be “persons” to address the extension of the definition and include the transgender into it as well.
“There is a dire need to change the perception towards the victims who come forth with their complaints,” she said. She was of the view that there was nothing as such black and white.
There were always grey areas. She asserted that these areas need to be addressed through the definition of jurisdiction by the competent authorities. She said workplace included all the space in the way from leaving for work to returning home.
The leading members of the government and civil society also participated in the discussion. Anees Haroon, Punjab Assembly members Bushra Anjum Butt, Uzma Kardar and Saadia Sohail also recommended that there should be sexual harassment committees in the provincial assembly.
It was also recommended that since there were no executive monitoring bodies that must monitor the code of conduct which should be displayed in every working environment.