The growth of the #MeToo and Time’s Up movements have seen an abundance of people speaking up about their experiences of sexual assault and harassment after years of silence. While there is some progress being made in unveiling the prevalence of assault and abuse, there is still an extremely long way to go.
A study shows that 93% of Pakistani women experience some form of sexual violence in public places in their lifetime. In another study about sexual harassment in the workplace, it was reported that out of 300 Pakistani women who faced sexual harassment, 35% were forced to keep quiet by their boss or colleague.
There are two legal provisions that govern sexual harassment in Pakistan: Section 509 of the Pakistan Criminal Penal Code and the Protection Against Harassment of Women at the Workplace Act of 2010. Both laws apply to the entire country. However not much is done nationally to uphold them.
Yesterday, the Sindh cabinet approved the “Sindh Protection Against Harassment of Women at Workplace Act 2018” and directed the CM’s adviser to go through its clauses and send it to the assembly for approval.
Staring at women in the workplace, winking, sending inappropriate text messages, assaulting, name calling, and more are now to be declared a criminal offense.
The law can result in a maximum penalty of imprisonment of three years and a fine of up to Rs 500,000.
While this is definitely an achievement, it still doesn’t change the fact that women are already reluctant to come forward with allegations of sexual assault in a country like Pakistan where most people still blame the woman herself in any such case. This results in the woman staying silent or quitting the job. It’s never okay for someone to feel uncomfortable, belittled, or scared – especially in a place where they must go every day to earn a living.
As this news started making rounds, Pakistanis reacted to a positive step forward in extremely absurd ways. For instance, this individual thinks “showing body parts” to men should be a crime too.
Some people thought it would be funny to joke about such a serious issue.
Rape jokes were also made, and honestly, it’s just disgusting.
Men asked if this would apply to women as well.
source: Facebook/ The Times of Karachi
However, some men, instead of letting the law take its course, stated they’d resort to violence.
Some considered an anti-harassment law to be bad news…for women…
However, there were a few who saw the comments section for the dumpster fire it was turning into.
The question remains – how effective will this really be? Will we still resort to victim-blaming and character assassination? Or is this the start of something new. Here’s to hoping for a better, safer work environment for women. What do you think of this new act? Let us know in the comments.
School Students In Karachi Are Exposing Sexual Harassers & Forcing Institutes To Take Action Against Harassment
cover image source: zipit.pk/dawn.com