WEB DESK: The work environment for women, in a male-dominated society like Pakistan, is often hostile and antagonistic, hindering their contribution to their country’s development as well as their right to employment.
Various studies have found that social constraints and aggressive work environment discourage women from seeking employment. To encourage women to join the labour force the government has set a quota for women but often even the minimum quota of 10% remains unfilled. Though women have been working in senior positions and running businesses in the private sector, these have been few in number. However, in recent years, there has been a gradual increase in the number of women working in the government and the private sector despite the obstacles they face.
Various forms of discrimination and harassment experienced by women at the work place are: leering, staring, making passes, discriminating, abusing authority for sexual favours, flirting, and inflicting violence. Though the law on this issue exists but without efficacious implementation it is counterproductive.
Therefore striking implementation on Workplace Harassment Law in any organisation can play a pivotal role to get the desired results. For the fruitful implementation on the law of harassment, we must pay attention towards the constitution of the Inquiry Committee, which should consist of such members who fulfill a certain eligibility criteria as framed by the Government. Such committee should be empowered to conduct a fair and impartial inquiry under the Protection against Harassment of Woman at the Workplace Act, 2010 without taking any undue influence. It is pertinent to mention here that it is not possible for the members of the Inquiry Committee of the same organisation to probe fairly into certain cases. Hence a couple of members must be incorporated from the other institution or management to minimise the internal influence.
The committee should consist of at least 5 members. After setting up the committee, each organisation should send its copy to the Ombudsman for ratification who will further determine that the committee is constituted as per provision of the Act. After ratification from the Ombudsman, the Notification may be issued from the concerned department. For the effectiveness and ready reference, all the statements taken from the complainant, accused and witness should be recorded in express form and through electronic media during the inquiry proceeding in an arranged manner as dialogue which will help the Inquiry Committee and Competent Authority to take decision in light of the facts and to avoid undue influence on inquiry to favour the accused.
The copy of the statements recorded by the committee and inquiry proceedings should be handed over to both parties, after finalising. Furthermore, the training sessions in the different departments should be conducted consistently to implement the law more effectively.
It is evident that Pakistani women have been harassed at their workplaces. It is generally believed that comfortable working environment is required for best creative work and at majority workplaces women harassment issues take place but gradual increase in ratio of these cases has alarmed several sects of society for stepping up vigorously to eradicate this problem. For coping up women harassment issues at workplaces, a strict implement on the protection against Harassment of Women at the Workplace Act 2010 must be ensured.
However, if any harassment case appears then the organisation should take notice and should go for formation of committees to inspect the whole situation in spite of ignoring it. The deliberate efforts for changing stereotypical thinking patterns about working women must be made and awareness must be created through organising workshops for gender sensitisation.
Moreover, all the stakeholders should make efforts to raise economic, social and educational status of society which are core cause of women harassment in Pakistan. The general public should focus on character development of people from their initial upbringing till joining professional careers, as it can significantly work for constructive change in society with regard to women harassment in society.
Source: Business Recorder