Lets define harassment

    Harassment is a global problem and is not only affecting women but men as well. In Pakistan, the Workplace harassment Act 2010 is one of the many legislative measures that have been taken to protect the rights of women along with men, and to encourage them to opt for the job of their choice in a safe and secure environment The recent long-awaited appointment of a female ombudsperson in KP can be considered a step ahead in handling the harassment issues at workplace.

    We really need to understand what harassment actually is, generally sexual harassment is well known and if we simply define harassment simply it can be unwanted physical or verbal behavior that humiliates or offends an individual consistently. However, there are various types of harassment not only in the workplace but also in general everyday life. Workplace harassment includes discriminatory, personal, physical, power/authority, psychological, online,  retaliation, sexual, quid pro quo , third party harassment and verbal harassment. Let it be clarified that when we talk about workplace harassment it means harassment for both the sexes.

    The most common forms of discriminatory harassment are racial harassment and gender harassment. A victim may face racial harassment may be due to his/her race color, caste citizenry, custom belief and attire. It can be indecent language and remarks, insulting and degrading comments. It’s an open secret that this kind of harassment is quite common and at times it isn’t considered as harassment in adults, however, it occurs in schools colleges and even universities even where acceptance of differences and diversity is hardly taught. Similar attitudes are carried forward without any sensitization or acceptance. These attitudes are developed over a long span of time and are later reflected in behavior at workplaces.

    The second type is gender-based harassment. There are negative gender-based stereotypes for men, women and transgenders. Women in our society are mostly the victims of gender-based harassment. Passing remarks, staring, is usually taken stride and people often exhibit boys and a certain lack of empathy for the sufferer in this instance. The harassment of transgenders is at times, isn’t even considered harassment and their objectification and the derogatory remarks they face are passed without the slightest regard to their feelings and their right equal citizens.

    The third is religious harassment and in our situation mostly minorities face it when in the workplace or in ordinary surroundings, people preach Islam to them and do not realize it is the condemnation of their religion too. It is quite common, even though the constitution ensures equal citizenry yet the existence of cruel religious jokes, degrading comments are a very common practice and are hardly taken as harassment

    Disability based harassment is self-explanatory and indicates unwanted harsh attitude due to the disability of an individual. A disabled person may face harassment in the form of harmful teasing, our infrastructures are hardly disable friendly, they often feel left behind and their right is snatched by the healthy and able bodied.

    Sexual orientation-based Harassment has gained recognition in recent times though it is not very common in Pakistan due to our religion cultural setup. People of any sexual orientation face inappropriate personal comments and it is a kind of bullying.

    Physical Harassment or workplace violence involves direct attacks, use of objects to hit and beat and intimidating behavior.  Children engaged in child labour are physically abused, in the recent past many incidents have been reported of physical harassment against transgenders and women working in households.

    Psychological Harassment is very common one as well, in homes, in schools and in the workplace damaging the psychological well being of the individual. There are hundreds of examples of traditional elders undermining the young ones.

    The recent and the latest is Cyberbullying a well-known phenomenon, as the victims are not sensitized over the use of cyber security many fall prey to it, males and females both. It includes sharing of humiliating things, indecent messages etc. The Cyber crime law 2017, is a hope for the victims, however, awareness among masses still needs to be addressed seriously and practically for effective implementation.

    Sexual Harassment has turned out to be the most prominent type of harassment and of course it means the unwanted sexual advances, comments, touches, sharing of sexual photos etc. Sexual Harassment has never been discussed openly. However, recently the #MeToo stories from different countries and societies have encouraged people to speak about it. Quid Pro quo means ” this for that “is a type of sexual harassment in form of job offers and incentives. It’s again for all genders however women are more vulnerable

    If prioritized for reformative measures, I think discriminatory harassment Psychological harassment and verbal Harassment need immediate attention along with sexual harassment and cyberbullying. We really need to sensitize young minds and make them understand that the dignity of a human being is above all and that everyone’s needs is to be promoted irrespective of their  gender, faith and their so-called status in society.

    Article credit: The article is originally published in Daily Times



    Shagufta Gul
    The writer has experience in the field of education and is currently working as a resource person in the development sector

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