Pak working women still face rampant harassment despite protection bill

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Islamabad, June 19 (ANI): Harassment of Pakistani women at the work place has brought about the Protection against Harassment of Women at the Workplace Act, but the bill is yet to benefit them.

The law has still not been fully implemented despite the directives by Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani, and both the provincial and federal departments have not taken measures for awareness of the harassment victims.

President Asif Ali Zardari signed into law the Protection of Against Harassment of Women at the Workplace Bill on March 9, 2010 to provide legal cover to the working women in both private and public sectors organisations, but none of the departments in all the provinces have taken the measures mentioned in the Act for its implementation so far.

"Some cases have appeared in public and private sectors departments and organisations, but the victims don't know as to how they would lodge a compliant," the News quoted a woman employee of a non-government organisation as revealing.

She said the woman officials were also harassed professionally and the prime minister's directives to encourage a professional and dignified work environment for the women were also ignored.

The prime minister through cabinet division's implementation cell issued directives to all the quarters concerned across the country and informed them that the law gave one month for the public and private organisations to comply, which began from March 11, 2010.

Now more than two months have passed but none of the provincial departments even displayed the Act for the awareness of its employees as provided by the Act and none of these even submitted compliance report to the quarters concerned.

The female officer said, as provided in the Act, none of the departments either displayed the provisions of the law to inform the employees, nor did they hold any awareness interaction with the employees.

The commissioner of Peshawar division, Muhammad Azam Khan, also directed on April 27 the district coordination officers and political agents of the Khyber and Mohmand agencies to ensure implementation of the Act.

Assistant to commissioner Muntazir Khan said the commissioner was working on a plan to launch a permanent cell to receive complaints about harassment against women in workplaces in both private and public sectors.

Women rights activist and provincial chief of the Women Action Forum Rukhshanda Naz said women were facing problems in the workplaces but they could not befit from the law due to their own ignorance.

She also blamed non-implementation of the Act on the bureaucrats.

"They are still reluctant and creating hurdles for the law to be fully put in motion," she stated. (ANI)

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