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Harassment case: Victim asked to approach ombudsman

June 28, 2012

ISLAMABAD, June 28: Secretary Ministry of Human Rights Shaigan Sharif Malik told the National Assembly Standing Committee on Human Rights that Nilofar Mehtab who was physically abused by a senior official should go to the court of ombudsperson on sexual harassment at workplace for justice.

The committee that met on Thursday to discuss poor and substandard services/facilities at all Pakistan international airports, especially took up the case of Nilofar Mehtab, a 16-grade computer officer in the Quaid-i-Azam Papers Wing, Ministry of National Heritage and Integration.

Joint Secretary Ministry of National Heritage and Integration Nayyar Sultana in her report submitted before the committee chaired by MNA Riaz Fatyana explained how the 16-grade officer had registered a complaint in March 2012 against the senior most official in the Quaid-i-Azam Papers Wing.

“In her first statement she accused the official of pushing her. And then in her second statement before a fact-finding body comprising a deputy secretary and a section officer, she alleged also being hit by the official,” said Nayyar Sultana.

However, she told the members that the allegation could not be proved due to lack of sufficient evidence. Most members asked if the senior official or his subordinate had history of aggression. To these queries the JS replied, “Both officials have been working together for the last 14 years. This was the first time such incident had taken place.”

Nayyar Sultana further elaborated that incident happened after the two officials had a dispute over transportation concern.

Chairman of the committee, Riaz Fatyana had earlier directed the Ministry of Human Rights to look into the case. Secretary Ministry of Human Rights, however, observed that the best option for the aggrieved party was to register a case either with the Federal Ombudsman for Protection against Harassment of Women at Workplace or the police.

When contacted Publication Officer, Federal Ombudsman for Protection against Harassment of Women at Workplace, Muhammad Abbas said the beating at workplace could fall into the category of hostile environment for women at workplace that hindered their performance.

“The Ombudsman has recently taken up a similar incident where a junior officer had slapped a research officer in grade-17 at Lok Virsa.

“Nilofar Mehtab’s case is probably no different and if she decides to register a complaint, the Ombudsman can take up the case after studying the content,” the official said.

Earlier, the Standing Committee on Human Rights took up the air crash cases in the last three years and delays in compensations to families of victims. They demanded answers stating reasons for flight delays, poor/substandard facilities at all airports in the country, difficulties in eradicating VIP culture, complications during Hajj operation and measures taken to improve condition of the aircrafts.

The Ministry of Defence explained to the meeting that the Airblue aircraft that crashed into the Margalla Hills with 152 passengers and crew members on board met the accident due to its pilot’s mistake.

“The report is available on our website. The recordings of the Black Box can also be made available,” said Joint Secretary Ministry of Defence, Iftikhar Ahmed Mir.

Regarding the Bhoja Air crash, Iftikhar Ahmed Mir explained to the meeting that the investigation had been completed but, he said, he could not comment on it until he had his hands on the final report.

MNA Riaz Fatyana also took a brief moment to explain his position regarding the attack on his house by a mob.