Harassment can take many forms and can damage the wellbeing of a victim in more than one way. Harassment covers a wide range of behaviours of an vituperative nature. It is commonly understood as behaviour that disrespect, demeans, humiliate or embarrasses a person and it is characteristically identified by its unlikelihood in terms of social and moral reasonableness. While harassment is not always easy to report, it is important to recognise it and be aware of the laws which exist to protect and empower you.
Be it catcalling, stalking or even the inappropriate grope – as per statistics, at least 99% of women in Pakistan have faced some form of harassment. The term “Sexual Harassment” is defined as requests for sexual favours, unwelcome sexual advances, or even any physical or verbal conduct of a sexual nature at the workplace, in public or anywhere else. Like many other nations, Pakistani women are also facing this issue and the harassment phobia only continues to grow with the news of rapes making rounds on television every other day.
What can Pakistani do when they find themselves to be victims of sexual harassment or know someone who has faced this horrible situation? Some laws under the Pakistan Penal code 1860 provide for the accused to be held liable and sentenced with either imprisonment, a heavy fine or even a death sentence:
- Section 510 of Pakistan Penal Code 1860: If a drunken person appears in a public place, causing annoyance to any person, he can be punished with imprisonment or fine or both.
- Section 509 of Pakistan Penal Code 1860: If a person labels any woman, utters any disrespectful word, or is offensive by their gesture, he’s liable to the punishment of three years or fine or both.
- Section 366A of Pakistan Penal Code 1860: If a girl under the age of 18 is forced to perform sexual intercourse, the offender is liable to a punishment of 10 years and fine.
- Section 509 of Pakistan Penal Code 1860: If a person demands sexual favors and uses a verbal or non-verbal form of communication, causing any kind of annoyance, the person is liable to a punishment of three years or fine or both.
- Section 509 of Pakistan Penal Code 1860: If a person makes a false accusation of fornication against any woman, he is liable to five years in prison along with a fine.
- Section 354A of Pakistan Penal Code 1860: If a person assaults a woman using criminal force, stripping off her clothes and exposing her to public view, he is liable to be punished with death or imprisonment for life along with fine.
- Section 294 of Pakistan Penal Code 1860: If a person uses any indecent or vulgar language in a public place with an intention to offend, he is liable to the punishment of three years along with fine.
- According to Section 3 of the Protection against Harassment of Women at Workplace Act 2010, each organization has to constitute an inquiry committee to inquire into complaints made regarding workplace harassment. The committee should comprise of three members. One member should be a woman.
- According to Section 2(H) of the Protection Against Harassment of Women at Workplace Act 2010, anyone making an unwelcoming sexual advance, requests for sexual favors, or his any verbal or physical conduct (falls in the category of workplace harassment) causes interference with work performance or creates an intimidating, hostile or offensive work environment for fellow co-workers, can be liable to following penalties.Minor Penalties:
- Censure withholding for a specific period
- Promotion or increment stoppage for a specific period
- Recovery or compensation, payable to the complainant from pay or any other source of the accused
- Reduction to a lower post
- Compulsory retirement
- Removal from service
- Dismissal from service or fine.