Pakistan Televison (PTV) anchor Tanzeela Mazhar, whose account of harassment and unwanted advances by a senior rocked the media, on Wednesday announced she had resigned from the TV channel.
Mazhar wrote in her resignation, which she also tweeted, that: “Things were made very difficult for me to work and I was facing huge psychological torture every day.”
“Overall, the environment at this office had become absolutely non-conducive and I was being threatened in every possible way to submit to that environment to secure my job and career,” she alleged.
This, she wrote, happened as a result of her constant complaints against PTV’s current affairs director, “who made unwelcome advances” at her in 2009.
“[…] After my resistance/confronting [my abuser] on his attitude, I was exploited and put off screen for [a] few months,” she alleged.
The Ministry of Information, which has oversight over PTV, was unable to comment on the matter as it was unaware of the development.
'I couldn't draw a govt salary and not work'
“I resigned because the man in question was reinstated," Tanzeela Mazhar told Dawn.com.
"Even though our contracts were renewed, we were not being given air time. To take a government salary but not work was unacceptable to me,” she said.
“It saddens me that the government did not take this matter up — committees are made for the smallest of matters, but no one came forward to help us on this matter,” she continued.
“When I raised my voice, people responded with [degrading] comments about women, and our character and personal lives, without understanding that what we do in our private lives is a private matter,” Mazhar said while speaking of the reprisals to a social media campaign she ran against the man in question.
“I plan to raise awareness about what harassment is, as most people do not take it seriously until a person has been beaten up or raped,” Mazhar added.
Mazhar was one of two female anchors from PTV — the other being Yashfeen Jamal — who had lodged a formal complaint with PTV management last year about the current affairs director making sexual advances and harassing the two.
Mazhar and Malik were taken off air for 'defaming' the organisation by PTV through a notification issued on Jan 23.
In a TV show aired by a private channel on Jan 22, Mazhar had expressed extreme dissatisfaction with the way PTV had investigated the case and failed to take 'sufficient' action against the abuser.
On January 29, Dawn had also reported that a committee probing the sexual harassment case against the director of current affairs at PTV had failed to finalise its inquiry report within the prescribed time period.
According to the timeline provided under Section 4(4) of the Protection against Harassment of Women at Workplace Act, 2010, the inquiry committee should have submitted the report by the end of Dec 2016 or early Jan 2017.
A senior PTV producer had told Dawn that three key figures, including a federal minister, wanted the abuser to get a “clean chit”.
He said that the inquiry report had been amended at least six times to make it favourable to the accused, which was why it had not been finalised in time.
Members of South Asian Women in Media (SAWM) — a regional forum for women working in the media industry — had also demanded a fresh inquiry into the sexual harassment allegations.
SAWM criticised the PTV management for “favouring” the accused and demanded that the current inquiry committee be dissolved and replaced with an external inquiry committee, which must include representatives from the National Commission on the Status of Women and the National Commission for Human Rights.