Workplace Anti-Harassment Laws in Pakistan Women Must Be Aware Of
By Mahnoor Jalal
In a survey carried out by The Nation which interviewed more than 300 women from different professions and backgrounds, it was concluded that sexual harassment, abuse and discrimination within Pakistan’s institutions was rampant and was largely ignored and unreported by senior managers.
59% of these women said that they were forced to remain silent for fear of losing their jobs. They claimed most of the perpetrators came from influential backgrounds, and that there were a lack of laws within the workplace regarding harassment or rape.
Maria Taimur, Senior Police Officer, Lahore, described the difficulties of working in an environment where proper laws and guidelines didn’t stop perpetrators from abusing and harassing young women. “We have anti-harassment drives in most districts, we try to change mind-sets, but it’s a slow process.”
Taimur also explained why it is difficult to hold harassers accountable for their behavior: “You can’t spot a harasser because often their demeanour is so respectful in public. This makes it easier for them to cover their tracks.”
Given the shortcomings and difficulties described by these women, we have researched and compiled a list of laws that protect women. One must be aware of their rights in the workplace and within the streets. Be more confident!
More importantly, be bold enough to chase your dreams! Say NO to sexual harrasment – make work environments safe for yourself and those who will follow.
Workplace Harassment Laws (passed in 2010)
Protection against Harassment of Women at Workplace Act was passed in March 2010 nationwide in Pakistan. It makes sexual harassment of women in the workplace and in public spaces a criminal offence.
- The law requires that all public and private organizations adopt an Internal Code of Conduct that establishes a safe working environment, free of intimidation and abuse, for all working women. If the organisation does not comply they can be fined PKR 100,000. If your organization does not have this, you must begin asking for it (refer to the link to share with your organization).
- According to Section 2(h) of the Protection against Harassment of ladies at Workplace Act, 2010 “badgering signifies any unwelcome lewd gesture, asking for sexual favors or other verbal or composed correspondence or physical direct of a sexual sort or explicitly disparaging frames of mind which may create hindrance upon the victims work ethic, or mistrust the safety and security of the workplace environment”.
- As indicated in Section 3 of the Protection against Harassment of ladies at Workplace Act, 2010, each association needs to comprise an Inquiry Committee to address protests made against work environment badgering. This committee will comprise of three individuals from whom one member must be a woman.
- Should an individual be found guilty to work environment badgering, he is subject to the following punishments under Section 4 of the Protection against Harassment of ladies at Workplace Act, 2010:
- Minor Penalties
• Withholding for a specific period, promotion or increment
• Stoppage for a specific period
• Recovery of the compensation payable to the complainant from pay or any other source of the accused
- Major Penalties
• Reduction to lower post or time-scale or to a lower stage in a time-scale.
• Compulsory retirement
• Removal from service
• Dismissal from service and
- Minor Penalties
- As per Section 8 of the Protection against Harassment of ladies at Workplace Act, 2010, the female has an alternative to record an objection straightforwardly to the Ombudsman or the Inquiry Committee.
Other platforms to use for Anti Sexual Harassment Support
“Our team will record the complainant’s details and forward your requests for action to relevant government or private authorities. Constant feedback is sought until the complainant is satisfied and complaint successfully closed.”
“Through all-female call centre executives and legal advisors, this facility provides guidance and legal advice to women all over Punjab facing problems related to harassment, property dispute, domestic violence, etc.”
Details you need at hand before making the call include;
i) Complainant Name
ii) CNIC (or any other identity)
iv) Source of information
v) Precise summary of information required or lodge a complaint
vi) Call Center agent will assist you and provide you relevant information or gather the information to lodge complaint.
2. AB AUR NAHIN is an online platform powered by the Digital Rights Foundation which connects victims of harassment to lawyers who will work on their cases regarding psychological, physical and emotional abuse for free. For more details, visit their website.
3. Should you need urgent assistance you can also call the Dolphin Squad on their:
a. Hot Line at # 9242 or;
b. SMS Mobile Service at # 8330