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Fighting harassment

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THE theme of Tehreek-i-Niswan’s fourth Peace Table held a fortnight ago was sexual harassment. This was very timely. #MeToo has made a controversial debut in the country with no consensus on the issue. As a television actor aptly said, “Women in our society remain united when it comes to keeping their mouth shut, and are divided when they speak up.”

The country now has a law in place, Protection of Women against Harassment at the Workplace. Yet women are hesitant to step forward and speak of their personal experiences. Our patriarchal culture, a flawed law and a weak machinery for implementation put women on the defensive. While some respond meekly, others give vent to their anger (usually on social media) to lash out at their oppressors.

The situation is now sensitive. We have had women of courage who refused to be silenced like Mukhtaran Mai (uneducated and underprivileged) and Navin Haider, a university professor. But these are exceptions, for one doesn’t hear of many women coming forward to resort to the legal processes provided. That is because it is easy to allege harassment but difficult to prove it in our circumstances. In such a case, the fallout can be serious for the woman trying to change the status quo.

So what we........

© Dawn