All’s not well when ‘Working With Sharks’

'Working with Sharks' launch

Harassment – sexual or not – is a serious problem in a society regardless of gender and it is the collective responsibility of both men and women in a living sphere to address the issue.
This was agreed upon unanimously by speakers at the book launch of Dr Fouzia Saeed’s autobiographical case study on harassment faced by women at workplaces titled ‘Working With Sharks’ at a hotel on Friday.
The guest speakers at the event included Sindh assembly member Sharmila Farooqi, distinguished singer Tina Sani, veteran actor and director Sahira Kazmi, and renowned director Adnan Malik.
Complimenting the author for sharing her experiences and personal sufferings about an issue that the women living in a patriarchal society like Pakistan face on regular basis, the MPA said: “Reading the book, I kept on remembering that even as a woman with legislative powers, I have also gone through some of the situations [described in the book] like the social scientist [author].”
Citing the example of a gang rape victim, Farooqi expressed annoyance about the media’s obsession with viewer ship ratings rather than addressing the “real issues”.
Congratulating the author on her courageous step to pen her personal encounters with male chauvinism, Sani lamented that despite legislation preserving rights of women, implementation of laws is not be witnessed.
Stressing on following up cases of human rights violations, she said that the media touches such cases once they spring up, but does not keep track of the cases afterwards. “The perpetrators are never caught and I think the larger share of responsibility lies with the media,” she added.
Expressing satisfaction over the recently-enacted laws against women harassment, Kazmi also rued the fact that reports about sexual harassment against young girls and boys keep on surfacing in rural and urban locale.
The veteran actor wished that the men start working besides their female counterparts and with equal enthusiasm.
Blaming the women partly for being harassed and victimised without any confrontation, Saeed said that some women are courageous enough to speak out against the harassment but unfortunately speaking out is not the solution to the problem.
Explaining the matter, she said that it is the whole mechanism in which complainant, courage to speak out, legislation against the act and punishment are key factors. “But, firstly, the society has to be supportive of victims of harassment speaking out against the act.”
“Similarly, sexist jokes have to be discouraged as harassment is not a trivial joke,” the writer stated.
At the forum, it was agreed that training for interaction between genders can be effective to end harassment of women.
Saeed – a PhD from the University of Minnesota – is well-known in the activist circles of Pakistan’s social movement, having worked for decades on women’s issues especially those linked to violence against women, prostitution, women in the entertainment businesses, and women’s mobility and sexual harassment.
Her work on violence against women spans over 20 years and includes founding the first women’s crisis centre in Pakistan in 1991. Her earlier work with the Folk and Traditional Heritage Institute (Lok Virsa) led to the book, ‘Women in Folk Theatre’.

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5 Comments

  1. Mukesh Meghwar said:

    Great Dr. Fouzia Saeed.This Book is necessity of time.
    Now Society should respect those Women, who are stand against sexual harassment .

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