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Studies show that street harassment is a global problem. Staring or looking continuously at someone with a lust is the most common form of harassment. Most men stare at women in the creepiest form and show the gesture of harassment towards women. But of course, not all men stare at women, even they dislike the act of staring and help women in situations when they feel uncomfortable.

When one talks about street harassment in Pakistan, an interesting question is raised by most of us, whose fault is it exactly? Either are the women at fault or the men staring at them or even those men in our society who don’t even bother to consider this an issue?

Is there any guarantee that if the women are fully covered with dupatta without any inappropriate dressing, then they are protected from harassment in our country? Will no men stare at them then or how many men lower their gaze while seeing a modest woman?

In most of the cities, a large segment of society has no adequate measures available for transport since they have public transportation available to them. But the irony is that women still experience harassment while travelling on buses or rickshaws, not only physical but emotional also.

Due to the socioeconomic reasons, more women have to step out of their houses, but there is no proper transport or safe public place available to them. Women experience the issue of street harassment while standing at the bus stop or some roadside place. Men in cars or motorbikes stop next to them and offer them lift often.  These harassment situations occur when women refuse to take the lift and wait for their buses.

We live in a society where harassing a woman is taken as a man’s masculinity! One of the major problems in Pakistan is that women are always graded in a second class position. Despite the significant role of women in our society, women have been oppressed in form of gender discrimination and been harassed outside.

Street harassment is a persistent issue that every other woman has encountered in this country.

It is unacceptable to receive unwanted comments, catcalling, whistling and other actions in public places even. Street harassment is not okay at all, while women have fears going out in public places and they can’t even feel safe and secure.

Women going to some public place are followed by someone who passes them unwanted comments and a vast majority of young girls have been harassed walking down the street.

Men consider it okay to do so, what they consider as suppressing another gender is proving them strong to be a man. This is a lack of social awareness, as street harassment has often led to strong feelings of anger, unwanted touching, following and this can result in feelings of anxiety, fear, depression and low confidence.

To avoid the street harassment, women have changed their behaviour, their dressing and routine. But all these ways doesn’t help to stop the harassment. When one man whistles at a woman at a public place, has another man ever stopped that stranger from doing so? It is highly disgusting and disrespectful experiencing such reaction from surroundings.

Everyone deserves the right to feel safe and comfortable in public places. No woman wants to be insulted, stalked or assaulted. Girls should have the right to go out freely as boys. The street harassment culture must stop now. In order to stop this situation, the attitude of men need to be revised and they must be aware of their positive role in this society.

How men Can stop Steet Harassment in Pakistan:

Let’s create a healthy society for the next generation where they will be respect and courteousness towards women. No women will feel insecure and harassed in that scenario.

1. Stop Argumenting/ Complimenting

If the men keep this in mind to stop commenting and even making an argument with women, then we will be able to develop a better approach and positive thinking.

Our society needs to help women overcome this fear of harassment; men should treat other women like their own family members. If we have to guide others, we should lead by example.

2. Lead By Example

Many women, especially working women have faced harassment issues in past few years; this has led to shattering the confidence of women. How could women play their positive part in this society, when they aren’t protected at their work places? We should stop blaming others and put our positive step forward. When each of the men starts to think positively towards women empowerment, only then we will be able to develop a positive economic growth in our country.

3. Treat women as family members

Women have been facing many challenges in different walks of life, if at any instance they need our help, society should help them face the challenges in a comfortable and secure way. Many ways our common men can stop this act of harassment in Pakistan; first the step should be to stop staring yourself at the women and respect them.

4. Be a role model

Every single male can be a role model in our society if he starts showing respect towards women. Criticize those harassers and be a positive change maker. If we have such harassers in our surroundings, we should take the step to inform the family members of such harassers or even inform the police in such matters. When there will be fear in this issue, only then we can stop such negative acts in our society.

5. Educate your children

Let’s give a wakeup call to all those men, who have been silently observing such harassment incidents and still not able to control this matter. Our children must be educated regarding this matter; women have been facing such people in every environment, and either be a school, college, university or some office. Every woman should not stay silent and prepare herself to be self-motivated even in such situations.

6. Respect women

Women have faced such harassments at different spells of life. For instance in their professional places, universities and even at schools. We have observed many incidents in which a woman have been led down by the male environment in offices and had failed to continue due to harassment and sexual assault. Why can’t we create a change in our country? Surely we can if men in Pakistan are positively educated to give respect to all women. The male dominated society doesn’t allow our ladies to go to their educational institutes within a safe environment without having any fears. It was a common issue in under developed areas due to lack of knowledge. But even in developed cities, men are not able to show an educated behaviour towards females. What exactly is the lack of men in Pakistan? They can’t actually figure out the role of women, they can even help women to be helping hands in this fast pace of life. But unfortunately, staring and giving unusual compliments have been common practice done by Pakistani men.

7. Criticize the harassers

Our men can be change makers by having perfect leading examples for others. Be a positive change maker and positive thinker to bring revolution in our society. Going in any public place have been made a difficult task for ladies in Pakistan. When they go out, they can’t freely move out without facing any starring acts, even they face difficulties while travelling and moving around in markets. Men can stop this in security by stopping such harassers and giving women the freedom to move around. We don’t want our women to be ill-treated by men; we want them to feel protected and safe everywhere. Women have been striving to get equal rights like men, but they have been deprived of this right when they have to face harassment even in the streets.

Respecting each other’s rights is compulsory to develop a peaceful environment. Our girls need to get the confidence to move out and get the education without any hesitation at their educational institutes. Men can have the most significant role in contributing towards women rights when they impact other men with negative thinking.

8. Help the victim

Positive vibes can be spread everywhere through common awareness, those who aren’t punished for false acts should be back lashed by punishing for such sin of harassing women out at streets.

Strict action should be taken against them, so they can never ever think about doing it all over again. The effects of street harassment have been found to be adverse on young girls when they are in their adult age and can’t find any help in such situations. We can stop this by asking men to step forward and bring a positive impact in our dear homeland.

9. Inform the police

Every single male can be a role model in our society. Criticize those harassers and be a positive change maker. Strict legal action should be taken against street harassers and police should be informed immediately.

10. Inform family/parents of Harassers

If we have such harassers in our surroundings, we should take the step to inform the family members of such harassers or even inform the police in such matters. When there will be fear in this issue, only then we can stop such negative acts in our society.

The post Street Harassment in Pakistan: 10 Ways Men can stop it appeared first on Muhammad Usman Awan - Social Activist from Pakistan.

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For someone who has been a victim of sexual harassment, life becomes quite difficult and most of the victims feel like it is impossible to get over the trauma that comes as a direct result of such an incident. Especially in Pakistan, standing up against harassment requires a lot of courage since it is not just about her and what she has been through.

Standing up and telling everyone in her family and friends about what she went through comes with a certain set of consequences. Most families are quite traditional in their thinking and way of life, which can become a hurdle for the woman who is trying to come to terms with what she has been through.This becomes a matter of prestige for both the woman and her family. It takes a toll on her relations along with her future prospects of being able to get married in a good family since not everyone understands such a situation and everyone is in search for the perfect daughter-in-law.

However, things are not taking a turn for the better. There are conferences being held for the women who have faced any sort of harassment, where they can learn more about how to overcome this huge issue while also standing up against the crime that was committed. This has brought more awareness and understanding amongst the public and families. Family support in such situations is vital because their support can make or break the whole process of fighting against harassment.

Standing Up To Workplace Harassment in Pakistan:

There are several ways that women can take a stand against this act and ensure a safer and healthier working environment for the women who come after them.

1. No means no

If, at your workplace, someone is obviously coming on to you and you can tell that they have other intentions than a professional work relationship then be very clear that you are totally not interested in anything that they have in mind. Get across your feelings about how you are not at all comfortable with anything except purely a formal relationship that only revolves around the work that you are assigned to do.

There are cases where women are unable to grasp the situation properly in its initial stage and that is sort of taken as a green signal and further actions result from this primary misunderstanding. For the males, it has to be realised that no means no, there is absolutely no way around it and you just can not force someone to like you back or take inappropriate actions on your own capacity.

2. Documentation of the incident

If the victim is not comfortable or feels threatened by being verbal about the harassment, then she can use literature to express what she is going through and demand the harasser to discontinue these inappropriate acts, both in and out of work. The victim can pen down all her feelings in a letter to the harasser or maybe even involve someone else she can trust with such sort of a secret and take their help in documenting this whole incident that she has been facing.

Another way to document sexual harassment could be to record any verbal form of harassment that the victim may be facing, which can very well be used against the criminal when the need occurs for it, if things get out of hand.

Documentation of the harassment can play a vital role as evidence if just these steps do not control the situation and the victim is forced to take this complaint to the authorities or the court, as well. She needs all the evidence she can collect to really back up her case since it is a difficult thing to really prove such cases.

3. Report the harassment

If the predator fails to understand the victim’s constant refusal and even a letter or any other form of documentation then it is time to take this case to the authorities. If there is a superior at work whom you are comfortable with or someone you are comfortable with discussing such a thing, then it is best to take him or her in the loop of the process of this whole incident and how you plan to deal with it. They may be able to give you an advice that could prove quite helpful rather than involving more people into this whole thing.

 However, if you feel there is not anyone you can trust with this secret of yours then, in that case, the best option is to report the case to the Human Resource Department. This is what most workplaces abroad recommend you do because then the responsibility of following up and ensuring safety to you falls on the HR Department and the company you are working for. Since it has been brought to their knowledge of a situation that one of their employees is facing, they need to follow the necessary laws that require them to take an action against the said person involved in committing this crime.

Moreover, reporting the crime ensures a safety for the victim in the sense that the employer can not claim that they could have done something about the situation if they had known earlier and made the victim on the losing end of the case. Also, this will make the message quite clear about the victim being uncomfortable about the conduct of the harasser.

4. Union involvement

Almost every workplace has unions that work for the benefit of the employees, making sure they are not exploited in terms of work, income or any other factor. Keep in mind that reporting such behaviour from a fellow colleague to the union can really be quite helpful for the victim. Especially in Pakistan, where unions are relatively strong and have a lot of power in determining the fate of the employees. Taking this up with your union can destroy any chances of future growth and job prospects of the harasser.

5. Discrimination complaint

Most jobs are required to have equal gender preferences when they have vacancies and applicants from different walks of life and genders apply for those jobs. Choosing the one over the other one basis of anything but their professionalism and career experience will be considered discriminatory. If someone is harassed, that is discriminating against one gender as that could be done so that the person leaves her job on her own or develops a reputation that causes her to be fired.

In any event, it is the right of the victim to file a complaint with the government claiming that she has been facing discrimination while on the job. This can ruin the reputation of the company; it could even lose its investors if such a thing goes public.

6. File a lawsuit

The union or the individual herself can also file a lawsuit against the employer of the workplace, claiming that not enough is being done to ensure a good work environment for the employees and this may cost the company a lot in terms of investor preference, lawsuit filing expenses and most importantly, their reputation. Most companies will prefer to avoid such a lawsuit and try to settle the issue within the company alone, as no employer wants to lower their company’s status.

The post How women can stand against Workplace harassment in Pakistan appeared first on Muhammad Usman Awan - Social Activist from Pakistan.

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Sexual harassment at a workplace is a very heinous yet common act, unfortunately. Women just do not feel comfortable at a workplace and most of the time they are so threatened by the consequences that they are even afraid of taking up their case against the person who commits such a horrendous crime. There is no check and balance, no security provided to women in most workplaces in Pakistan. Along with this, in a country like Pakistan, the integrity and honour of everyone else except the woman are considered a top priority. It is considered much more important to cater to the prestige of the men in the household of the victim rather than focusing on well-being and justice for the victim. This really complicates most cases as the victim almost never gets justice and because of that, there are no steps taken against this at the workplace. This causes the woman to either leave the job or continue with it in completely unacceptable working conditions because she may have no other option.

Now it is high time that workplaces take this seriously and take necessary steps to ensure a safe and healthy environment for women to work in while also ensuring that the criminal gets the punishment he deserves. The administration of a workplace can take certain steps to ensure a secure environment for the women to work in which include the following:

1. Discussion in special meetings

It is totally unprofessional to not discuss all the issues and policies at the workplace and establish a healthy relationship between the employer and employee, while also laying down some ground rules at the office. It is very important to discuss the causes and repercussions of sexual harassment in the offices so that everyone knows their place and respects all colleagues.

There should also be meetings conducted to come up with rules regarding any sexual harassment case that must be reported to the authorities. There should be a discussion conducted over devising a system where the victim has an easy medium available to report any crime without coming under any sort of threat and facing any unnecessary consequences because it is not the victim’s fault if she is sexually harassed in a professional work environment.

2. Rights of female employees

Every workplace needs to recognize the rights of the women working in the office. There should be clear guidelines and rules that everyone needs to be aware of. It is also important that every guideline should be included in the job contract so that they are official and anyone who does not follow these guidelines or fails to uphold the rights of female employees should face the consequences of his actions. Including the guidelines in the contract will make it a much stronger rule so that even if someone does consider going against it, he should have to think several times of the repercussions that will be a direct result of his actions.

3. Employer’s support

It is a blessing at a workplace to work under a supportive and understanding employee who truly cares about his employees and goes an extra mile to ensure that they are satisfied with the environment they are working in. In Pakistan, however, that is a rarity. Most departments are overworking the employees without even paying them for the overtime work that they do. There are no defined rights of the employees, which really need to change especially in this day and age.

It is vital to introduce and uphold rights of the female employees. They should be given complete security and assurance of a healthy work environment. In most cases of workplace sexual harassment, the case fails to go further and get the victim any justice because she has little to no support from the employer. Most employers avoid supporting such cases because they think that will negatively affect the company/office’s reputation or that if an official case if filed by the victim, it would be an added cost to the expenses to fight a case. So the females working in the office are left with no support just because of selfish reasons like the ones mentioned, while no one even considers the trauma that they are going through due to any incident they may have faced related to sexual harassment at workplace.

It is essential for the employer to support his or her employees no matter what situation they may be facing. It is their responsibility to make sure they provide the employees with the best work environment possible and also to be supportive of them regardless of the situation. If most employers were supportive in sexual harassment cases, there might have been a drastic change in the occurrence of such incidents. However, the number of people who have been facing such situations are only increasing instead of deteriorating because of lack of support and most importantly due to there being no action taken against the criminals in these cases.

4. De-sexualize workplace and educate employees

In different countries, there are different laws that everyone has to follow at a workplace. With the increasing sexual harassment cases, they have actually introduced and implemented laws that focus on de-sexualizing the work environment, which is quite a necessary step that needed to be taken. This has led to fewer sex-related conversations or just-for-laughs being carried out in an office environment and has somewhat improved situations for the female employees.

Pakistan law authority firms need to implement such laws as well. In this country, anything related to sex is considered taboo to the extent that people are not even comfortable in discussing anything related to the topic amongst their families. Growing up, everyone faces an awkward stage where they find out about this and do not know how to accept or deal with this.

 A preferred way for them to get comfortable with it would be to discuss this with their parents, get educated about it and learn more about this without choosing the wrong path. But since this topic is all hushed up in Pakistan, that is a huge part of why when someone faces harassment, they rather keep it to themselves than share it with their family and lessen the burden. It is really important to also educate the employees about consent in sex. This is a huge issue, as there is just no concept of consent in sex. Men need to be aware of what consent is and be able to tell if the person is comfortable with even men touching them.

5. Remedies to overcome this Problem

There should be prominent policies against sexual harassment, which should be made clear to every single employee who first applies and then joins the workplace. The policies should also be distributed amongst employees quite often as a reminder. If there is a female employee who has faces sexual harassment at work, she needs to be assured by the policy of where she works that she will be able to report the crime but also be able to keep her identity anonymous. This is because it is possible that if her identity is known, she is further looked down upon at the workplace and it is also possible that she may be fired or threatened outside of work by the criminal.

Moreover, her decision to file a complaint should in no way be held against her; meaning that her complaint should not come in between her promotions or any raises that she may deserve but is refused due to her stand taken against sexual harassment.

Another policy that may be added in the employee rights is that there should be a complete no tolerance policy against the people who sexually harass their female coworkers. It should be part of the contract so that every single employee needs to sign the no tolerance section of the contract. This authorizes the company to take legal action against the person who has been reported by an employee.

The actions taken against the criminal should be severe so that for example if someone has been reported, he should be made to leave work while his case is investigated and any final decision is reached. If he is indeed found guilty of the charge, then he should be fired immediately, without any after job benefits allowed to him.

6. Follow-up

With these remedial measures at the workplace, it should not be the case that these are just strict rules and regulations only on paper. This needs to be considered as one of the top priorities to keep a check on the complaints that are coming in and ensuring that there is nothing inappropriate being discussed or joked about in the workplace.

 Apart from that, there has to be a proper insurance of the whole process going smoothly to see whether the steps are being followed as recommended. There is not room for any favors to be entertained in this situation so that if the criminal is a relative of someone in authority or is considered a really good employee he gets a pass; this is usually the case in these situations but this really needs to change if there is a need to improve the work environment and protect women’s rights in the workplace.

The post How to prevent sexual harassment at workplace in Pakistan – Complete Guide appeared first on Muhammad Usman Awan - Social Activist from Pakistan.

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The modern era has a fair share of its pros and cons. Pros can be anything that has made our life simpler and easier and cons could be the highest level of exposure to just about anything. Harassment has been a practiced course to date; either in developed or underdeveloped countries, developed countries is seen to be taking measures in eliminating this issue because of enforced laws and education system but it is not completely gone, while underdeveloped still has to struggle with it and they are somehow striving towards taking initiatives.  Women usually experience a lot in harassment, varying from their workplace to their institutions. Pakistan does not hold a very good reputation when it comes to harassing girls, exactly like many other countries which are equally witnessing this concerned problem. Following are the reasons that the issues of morality ignite to issues of mortality and girls become the victims of harassment.

Reasons of Women Sexual Harassment in Pakistan:

We conducted a research recently, where we catered 20 women of different sectors and they spoke of harassment, weaknesses, and flaws that ignite the fire to such situations in Pakistan. Listed are the factors they boldly mentioned,

1. Self Defense:

Women do not usually focus on practicing self-defense for the severe situations. Hence, when they encounter one, they are unable to fight back. Or maybe the way they respond to the victimizer is poor. This is one valid reason, harassment is massive in Pakistan. People react violently to such situations and if she reveals her problem in real life she is highly criticized. Instead of focusing on the victim, people get aggressive towards them.

2. Lack of Self Confidence:

The clichéd concept in our society that narrates a girl; is to be weak and a boy; will always be tough. Hence, the weaker side is always suppressed. When females are harassed or sexually abused, they merely take a stand for themselves and consider them weak. This way the abuser takes benefit of it. Society should prohibit the usual concept that a woman is weak and conceptualize them as a strong entity to the society. A woman is not meant to be weak instead she is a pride to our nation.

3. Communication Gap:

One of the core reasons to harassment in Pakistan can be the communication gap between the children and parents. I don’t deny that only women are abused, a man becomes the victim too, at times. But, if we talk in numbers, women stand out the most.

Solution and support were easier if the girl could easily approach her parents for the abuse she suffered from. But, parents in most cases misunderstand the situation and blame the girl for this act, in extreme, they force their daughters to drop out from schools and colleges. Parents should not doubt their daughter’s character instead provides her with the help she requires. In most cases, females usually build up mental health problems or they either suicide.

4. Inappropriate Law Enforcements:

Law enforcement agencies past performances have not been excellent, even if they tried, it somehow has escalated to the problem like it was previously. Sometimes, the actions are long due which situates the people to lose faith in them. Moreover, the ones who are unwilling to conduct an action towards the culprit end up not taking it because sometimes they are self-involved, which makes it impossible for them to take action against themselves.

5. Law Awareness:

Even if there are some laws, which would compensate such a brutal act, fewer people are aware of it. There is no point of eradicating a social cause when people have not studied about it. Asking a room full of audience, the minority would know about the laws. School and colleges have not taken much initiatives or steps for the awareness of laws for sexual abuse or harassment.

6. Poverty:

Many of the women belong to the lower class of the society and sometimes, for supporting their surrounding and maintain a healthy life, they take low profile jobs or even normal jobs where co-workers harass them in multiple ways. Females in that scenario become helpless, for they have to financially support their families. And, they are afraid to expose of the reality, just in case they are fired from their designated jobs for having issues on the workplace. Poverty is a strong factor to harassment being practiced in the society. Pakistan is involved in this issue equally.

7. Physical training:

It is considered very odd for a woman to opt for physical training in Pakistan. Firstly, they are not motivated to go for it. Secondly, no source or education sector informs them about physical training’s necessity for girls. Men are tough and sometimes overpowering, in times of crucial moments, girls are helpless and they are unable to fight back. Why? Because they are never trained for the cause, instead of females cry and beg for help, which is not an appropriate solution to the problem.

The post Why Girls become victim of Sexual Harassment in Pakistan appeared first on Muhammad Usman Awan - Social Activist from Pakistan.

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