Pakistan needs change in public mindset to avert women harassment

KARACHI, Dec 23 (APP): Pakistan one of the most legislated countries with scores of regulatory bodies for protection of women rights, including their safety against the menace of harassment, is in dire need to modify public mindset about the issue.

Speakers in an awareness seminar organized by Sindh Ombudsman Office for Protection Against Harassment of Women at Workplace here on Monday also referred to financial constraints
faced by implementing as well as regulatory bodies assigned with the responsibility to turn relevant law truly meaningful for the victims.

Representing judiciary, police department, provincial commission on status of women, women welfare department, academia, NGOs and so-forth speakers also took strong exception
to the steps taken for capacity building of personnel expected to deliver.

Though reluctant to admit that there was lack of needed political will towards the subject they but identified series of lacunae that otherwise could efficiently help mend human power
deficiencies consequently leading to better understanding and appropriate choices in application of the scanty resources at their disposal.

The event organized to mark National Working Women Day 2019 was addressed by Chairperson, Sindh Commission on Women Status, Nuzhat Shirin, Prof. Dr. Human Baqai, SP Shahla Qureishi, Marvi
Awan (Coordinator, Women Protection Center), Naheed Ansari (Motivator), Ms. Muntaha (Self Defence Trainer), Shoaib Ashraf (Supreme Court Lawyer), Mohammad Ali Siddiqui (former diplomat)
and others.

SCSW Chief, Nuzhat Shrin particularly emphasized the importance of strengthening of institutions adding that concerned bodies also must work in coordination to help achieve the
objective of an equitable society.

With regard to limitation in terms of funding further aggravated due to shortcomings registered in capabilities of human resource, she particularly highlighted inadequacies in the police departments where personnel instead of helping the victims try to coerce them under one or the other pretext.

Lack of findings affecting measures to provide needed shelter and support to victims of abuse/harassment was also mentioned on the occasion.

Dr. Huma Baqai linked the issue of women harassment with the concept of power whereby a sizable number of male members of the society try to assert their authority at the cost of social and
economic well being of thousands of families, including their own, in one or the other way.

Particularly addressing the men present on the occasion the speaker said women education and their economic empowerment was inevitable in the fast changing world of today, hence, they must
also not deny their very own daughters and other women family members of the opportunity.

It is time to change attitude towards women in general as was done by the leaders of Peoples Republic of China and Vietnam, who years ago declared women to be equal partners in the
available resources of the country.

Respect was said to be inculcated and promoted on strong lines helping the country to emerge as a self reliant and respectable member of the world community.

Ironically our own country along with the super power of the present day world are among the 10 most dangerous countries for women in the present day world, said Dr. Baqai mentioning that
concerted efforts are required to develop an equitable and violence free society.

She also sought optimum involvement of women in policy making process.

Justice (retd) Shahnawaz Tariq, the Provincial Ombudsman for the Protection of Women Against Harassment at the Workplace -Sindh, said relevant cases were efficiently handled by his office
under which not only the accused proven to be guilty were penalized but victims were also compensated.

“A senior lady prosecutor has been appointed, along with other adequately trained and motivate staff by the Sindh Ombudsman office working for protection of women against
harassment at their respective workplace,” he said.

Justice (retd) Shahnawaz Tariq said to protect the identity and safety of the victims his office never share the details of cases handled by it but can safely claim to have taken action
against university teachers, senior bankers, doctors/psychiatrists and other established to have harassed their women colleagues or those working in junior positions.

“We are absolutely committed to provide justice to the victims and also ensure that false accusations are adequately handled,” said the ombudsman.

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