A survey of 300 women conducted by a local media outlet shows that sexual harassment is still present and gradually increasing in the Pakistani workplace.
This survey was conducted by the publication through online questionnaires and interviews in Karachi, Islamabad, Lahore, Peshawar and included working women from various industries.
61 per cent of the women surveyed said their employers did not force them to keep quiet about the harassment, but an alarming 35 per cent of the women said that they were specifically told to remain silent by their colleagues and bosses.
According to the survey, only 17 per cent of those who experienced harassment went to their organisation’s internal inquiry committees with their complaints. 59 per cent reported that their management does take harassment seriously, but remains unable to do anything about the harassers.
Most of the women said that their management did not believe them when they approached them with their complaints.
It was found out during the survey that harassment is being faced by women in all areas including medicine, technology, parliament, police, law, etcetera.
It was also revealed that most women are facing aggressive behaviours by their managers which is tantamount to harassment as it creates humiliating work conditions for female employees.
According to Nighat Dad of the Digital Rights Foundation, women should approach their management with the harassment issues as when women protect harassers they are actually ‘enabling’ these men and their misconduct.
More than half of the women who were surveyed said that they would leave their jobs if harassed. For 12 per cent, reactions of workplaces and families would determine whether they stayed after harassment or not.
Legal experts argue that though sexual harassment in public spaces is now punishable by imprisonment and/or a fine, it has not served its purpose given the shortfalls of the criminal justice system.