Harassment - You want to be a victim or a survivor?
How do I fight against harassment living in a country where consent means nothing because saying NO to a boy is what a good daughter does because if I say yes easily, I’ll be labelled as Easy, Characterless even Slutty. So basically if I have no consent that will add a star on my character certificate. I live in a corporate world where if I dress nice and neat if I greet everyone with a smile and if I made the huge mistake of wearing a bold lipstick to work, my coworkers will assume I am seducing my way to a promotion. I live in a house where my mum hushed me when I told her that her cousin brother touched me inappropriately. I live in a Mohallah where a family throws out their daughter-in-law for not meeting up with the expectations of a mighty dowry. I live very close to a place where three grown-up married women were shot dead for a video going viral in which they were not doing anything but clapping for their brothers dancing to a local beat. I breathe in a country where women are being killed for nothing in the name of honour killing every day.
Such is my country, my independent country where the majority of the population which is women are still subjected to house slavery, domestic violence and mental oppression. We might not be the rape capital (Delhi) of the world but we surely sell our daughters at the name of marriage (Walwar- a rural Pashtoon custom of marrying their daughter off in return of some cash/ cattle or gold demanded and decided.)
1. Are things changing?
Now some people will argue that things are improving. Sure they are, but at a cringingly slow rate. For instance, the Protection against Harassment of Women at Workplace Act, 2010 which was the first time Harassment related issues were addressed via the legislative body. Also, the Act 509 of Pakistan Penal Code declares a person insulting the modesty of a woman or harassing her as a criminal and the perpetrator may be imprisoned for up to 3 years and or charged with a fine of up to 5 lac rupees or both.
2. The Protection against Harassment of Women at Workplace Act, 2010
The problem with such laws is our unawareness of such laws, lack of courage even if we are aware and not knowing what exactly to do or whom to talk to when we face harassment. Now dear ladies here is what you need to do. This is the five to fight against harassment.
Tell the harasser that you dislike his gaze, voice, advances or any actions that are making you feel uncomfortable.
Do inform a trustworthy person about you being harassed and by whom.
If this is happening at a workplace you need to informally complain about his/her (women can harass women too) behaviour to a supervisor or a senior.
Officially making a complaint to your supervisor, CBA (union) representative or boss.
Filing an official complaint which can be done in the following ways;
Report to the inquiry committee constituted with your organization (section 4).
Report to federal/provincial Ombudsman appointed under The Protection against Harassment of Women at Workplace Act, 2010, section8.
Report directly to police (under Section 509 of Pakistan Penal Code).
3. Harassment via the internet is also cybercrime
One thing women ignore is cyber harassment which is the safest way for the harasser to harass you with words, images, videos, voice notes to scare you or blackmail you. Being a girl I know how critical this internet and social media trolls and these blackmailers are, that’s why we all have to keep our privacy tight. Also, every woman out there needs to know there are laws to assist you. You can file a complaint against a cybercriminal at www.nr3c.gov.pk. The helpline for cybercrime is +92 336 6006 060.
4. Final Verdict
To every woman out there, you’re not alone in this definitely. There are laws, there are people who will help you, all you need to do is gather some courage and speak up if anybody out there is making you uncomfortable whether he is your boss, a coworker, a relative, a neighbour, a friend or just a passerby. Things will change if we will do our part, rest will fall in its place only then. And ladies, it does not consent if he is making you afraid to say NO. If I had a say in this I would call upon every woman being harassed to speak up for herself because you’re not a victim for speaking up, you’re a survivor and a fighter for setting the world on fire with your truth.