PESHAWAR: Speakers at a training workshop on Thursday asked the federal government to take practical steps for the implementation of a law against harassment at workplace, saying this will encourage women facing harassment to come forward and file complaints.

The workshop on ‘Awareness on Protection Against Harassment of Women at Workplace Act 2010,’ was jointly organised by the provincial social welfare and women empowerment department and Peshawar Uplift Programme at Puta Hall of the University of Peshawar, said a news release issued by organisers.

Students and teachers of various faculties of the university and other private sectors universities attended the workshop.

Deputy director of the social welfare and women development department Robina Riaz Khan, NGO Da Hawa Lor chief executive Khursheed Bano, Peshawar Uplift Programme coordinator Zile Huma, Peshawar High Court lawyer Hashim Raza and Islamia College University’s Professor Ghayoor Ahmad talked about the issue and legal support for harassment victims.

Panelists say awareness crucial for workingwomen to get legal protection against harassment

Khursheed Bano said though the Act was passed on March 11, 2011 to ensure safety of workingwomen against sexual harassment at workplace, progress on its implementation at provincial level by introducing mechanisms to ensure its implementation was very slow.

She said the Act had been implemented in letter in all sectors including government departments, nongovernmental organisations, semi-government institutions, private companies and all other autonomous bodies across the country.

The Da Hawa Lor chief executive said women were subjected to sexual harassment at workplace.

“Workingwomen should be made aware of this Act so they could get legal protection against harassment,” she stressed.

Advocate Hashim Raza discussed all legal points of the Act and said organisations or employers if found guilty of sexual harassment of employees could be fined of Rs25,000 to Rs100,000 or both according to the Act.

Robina Riaz said peer pressure and Pakhtun culture were major impediments for the victims of sexual harassment to raise voice for justice.

She said the Act should be prominently displayed at all workplaces so that women could work without fear. Professor Ghayoor said sexual harassment of women was not limited to the third world but the practice was prevent in the developed countries, including America and Russia, as well. He stressed the need for implementation of the Act in letter and spirit.

Speaking as the chief guest on the occasion, Peshawar University vice chancellor Professor Rasool Jan lauded the workshop organisers and asked them to continue doing so for public awareness. He later distributed certificates among workshop participants.

Published in Dawn, May 1st, 2015

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