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    August 26, 2016

Detail

 


Suicide case of a student Tahira Bibi

“No nation can rise to the height of glory unless your women are side by side with you; we are victims of evil customs. It is a crime against humanity that our women are shut up within the four walls of the houses as prisoners. There is no sanction anywhere for the deplorable condition in which our women have to live.”
Mohammad Ali Jinnah, 1944 (taken from the report “Pakistan – A Country Study”)


With reference to the letter of Mr. Abdul Murad Saheb, addressed to the Editor Chitral Times, I wish to draw your attention towards the “The Protection against Harassment of Women at the Workplace Act 2010” According to PPC 1860(XLV) “Harassment” means any unwelcome sexual advance, request for sexual favors or other verbal or written communication or physical conduct of a sexual nature or sexually demeaning attitudes, or creating an intimidating, hostile or offensive work environment; “Accused” means an employee or employer of an organization against whom complaint has been made under this Act; “Complainant” means a woman or man who has made a complaint to the Ombudsman or to the Inquiry Committee on being aggrieved by an act of harassment; “Competent Authority” means the authority as may be designated by the management for the purposes of this Act; “Employee” means a regular or contractual employee whether employed on daily, weekly, or monthly or hourly basis, and includes an intern or an apprentice; “Employer” in relation to an organization or not, who employs workers and is authoritative, directive or controller of the management and “Inquiry Committee” will of three members of whom at least one member shall be a woman, one member shall be from senior management and one shall be a senior representative of the employees or a senior employee. The responsibility of the employer to ensure implementation of this Act, including but not limited to incorporate the Code of Conduct for protection against harassment at the workplace as a part of their management policy and to form Inquiry Committee, and designate a competent authority. If the employer is failed to comply the provisions of this act, then employee of an organization can file a petition before the District Court and employer may be liable to fine which may be rupees 25,000-1,00000. All organizations, including federal and provincial government ministries, departments, corporations, educational institutions, private commercial organizations and registered civil society associations, will be required to constitute inquiry committees to start probing complaints within 3 days of its receive and give their findings within 30 days to the competent authority concerned that will award recommended penalties.Minor penalties will be: censure, withholding for specified periods of promotion or increment and stoppage at an efficiency bar in the time-scale, other than fitness to cross such bar, and recovery of compensation payable to a complainant from pay or any other source of the accused.

Major penalties are: demotion to a lower post or time-scale or to a lower stage in a time-scale, compulsory retirement, removal from service, dismissal from service, and fine, a part of which can be used as compensation for the complainant. In case of owner (found guilty), the fine shall be payable to the complainant. The Code of Conduct in Schedule II of this Act provides a guideline for behavior of all employees, including management, and the owners of an organization to ensure a work environment free of harassment and intimidation. It explains three significant manifestations of harassment in the work environment. “Abuse of authority” is a demand by a person in authority, such as a supervisor, for sexual favors in order for the complainant to keep or obtain certain job benefits, be it a wage increase, a promotion, training opportunity, a transfer or the job itself. “Creating a hostile environment” requires finding of a pattern of offensive conduct, however, in cases where the harassment is particularly severe. The refusal to grant a sexual favor can result in “Retaliation”, which may include limiting the employee’s options for future promotions or training.Now we come on the second part of the Act which is Amendment of section 509, XLV of PPC 1860, if a person intend to insult the modesty of any woman, utters any word, makes any sound or gesture, or exhibits any object, intending that such word or sound shall be heard, or that such gesture or object shall be seen, by such woman, or intrudes upon the privacy of such woman or sexually harass a her (as per upper definition of harassment), he would be found guilty and will be punished. Such behavior might occur in public place, including, but not limited to, markets, public transport, streets or parks, or it might occur in private places including, but not limited to work places, private gatherings, or homes. Under the amendment made in Code of Criminal procedure (V of 1898), the offensive will be caught with bail able warrants compoundable with permission of the court. He will be imprisoned up to 3 years, or fine up to Rs.5,00,000, or both by Magistrate of the first class.
The Act clearly outlines procedures for holding inquiries as well as penalties for minor and major offences, ranging from mild reprimands to firing the accused.

The Act makes it clear that the committee has 30 days to come up with the verdict as well as the penalty, if any. After this, the organisation’s management is given a week to implement the penalty, such as, for example, firing or demoting the guilty party.

As member of a civilized society, we are expecting from education department to educate our youth on rights and responsibilities and trained their staff, employees and their students about the effective implementation of ‘Protection Against Harassment of Women At, which is a binding law to be enforced by the management of school. The Workplace, Act 2010.’ special emphasis on serious sensitization of management, staff and students on the issue of sexual harassment to curb it so that students can focus on their education and employees can earn a living in a harassment-free environment, so that everyone can focus on their work. It is binding on the head of the organization to train the staff in the workplace harassment legislation for effective implementation within their organisations.

But the head master failed to provide protection to her student, despite of her serious concerns and her harassment was witnessed by many villagers. Instead of conducting inquiry and fixing responsibility the HM asked the little child( under 18 years) to go to Police station and lodge FIR and both the HM and the teacher agreed to be witness to the harassment case, according to the police report. The HM and the teacher exploited her to lodge FIR, but later on refused to attend in the court as a witness. I understand that the HM completely filed to fulfill his basic responsibility to investigate the case and fix responsibility. His irresponsible acted to end of an innocent life. The EDO education also failed to fulfill his responsibility to investigate the case from the HM, and act accordingly, the local police lodge FIR without HM investigation report.

It is now clear that the failure of HM to investigate the harassment case against the Chowkidar, and later on his refusal to attend the Court caused to the death of the young girl. Now FIR should be lodge against the HM against his sheer failure of his responsibility and the EDO education department, who either kept in dark about the case or he intentionally ignored the investigation. I suggest to lodge FIR against the main culprit the chowkidar, the Head Master and EDO education.

Syed Harir shah
Islamabad.

 

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