This campaign was started on 29 November 2017 and one year is completed. So today, on our first anniversary, we want to share our achievement report and we want to share our success with you.
The biggest problem we facing in our country is that no one feels comfortable to talk about harassment, as it is still considered as a taboo in our country. Parents are not comfortable to talk with their children and children are also not comfortable to talk with their parents.
So we planned to develop a community where women should feel comfortable to talk about harassment, share their experiences and stories, interact, share opinions, support and learn from each other.
1. We created a closed Facebook Group with the aim to bring 10,000 girls and working women in the first year. We start adding our Female contacts, tell them about this campaign and requested them to add their female friends, and then friends of friends and So on.
Right now we have a community of 11,000 Girls and Working Women in our group. We are regularly sharing awareness based content, latest stories, law-related stuff and empowering women in a way so that they should understand harassment and respond to such situations.
2. We have conducted a lot of research, we met with a lot of victims, interviewed a lot of women and developed a research-based content to empower girls and working women against harassment. We have developed some blog content which is available on our website and a lot of other content is in pipeline. Our content ranks on top in Google and our aim is to write on every topic related to harassment in Pakistan and in the next 2 years we will be the biggest online resource about sexual harassment related stuff in Pakistan.
3. During the first year, we have got a lot of cases which were around 60. 3 of them were very severe and we helped the victim in the legal prosecution as well. In 7 cases, victims step back and they said we don’t want to continue the prosecution and we want to withdraw.
We got around 50 cases in which the victims told us the story and they impose the following condition on us.
a) Don’t reveal our name and please keep secret all the things
b) We don’t want to go for legal prosecution, laws and police etc. as we will be exposed and we will face problems in society.
c) We can’t inform our family because they know nothing and if they know they will be angry at us, not allow to continue study or job etc….
So this was very hard to solve these cases as we have no legal authority to arrest someone or solve the cases individually. We are just an awareness based campaign which aims to empower the women and base on the legal institutions for prosecution.
So we decided to empower the victims so that they should solve the cases by their selves. We understood the whole scenarios, completely understood the problem, ask all details and start empowering women about harassment, its types, about preventive measures, and we start giving her a free step by step guide that how can she get rid of the influence of harasser and how can she respond in this hard situation. We start educating them about preventive measures, about harassment types, the behavior of harassers etc. and by following our guidelines their problems were solved.
Then we came of know if the women know about harassment, preventive measures, harassment types, laws and if she knows how to respond to such situations then up to 80% cases can be resolved without legal prosecution. So right now we are working to educate and empower girls against sexual harassment, we are spreading awareness about harassment, its types, laws, and preventive measures so that women should learn and they shouldn’t become a victim of it. And if she becomes a victim, then at least she should know how to get out of this situation and fight for herself.
4. We highlighted a story of Miss Suman Ali who is an acid survivor form Pakistan. She fought for herself for 1 year and 7 months to get justice and finally the one who threw acid on her was imprisoned for 28 years and fined for 2 million. Our story got viral on the internet and we got a call from “Women in the World” team and they told us we are inspired from her story and we wanna invite her to speak on “online harassment” for our upcoming “Women in the World” conference which is going to held in April 2019 at New York City. We also published many other stories of real victims without mentioning their names so other people should learn from their experiences and stories.
5. Our content is most researched and its base on the real research and the victims’ stories. Renowned actress Sarwat Gillani called us and she asked for a permission that she is going to speak about harassment in a national conference and she was searching on internet about this topic and she found that this is the best and most researched content and she asked for a permission that I want to speak about this content in my talk.
6. Hundreds of women messaged us, they share their problems and ask for expert advice. 5 women told they have been facing it since childhood, while this is the first time they trusted someone and opened up. They shared that speaking out finally brought unreal relief to their hearts.
7. We regularly update harassment related content and help provide a voice to the ones in distress. We uploaded videos of juvenile maids narrating their ordeals and how they faced harassment at the hands of employers. Not only the videos went viral, but the overwhelming response also built pressure on the government to take relevant action.
So these are the little achievements. Our future plans are regular informal awareness based meetups, awareness sessions, and we are also creating an online awareness course and we will also launch a mobile application too. We will keep updating the research-based content with an intention to add to your knowledge and also highlight the stories of the women who stood bravely against harassment.
Muhammad Usman Awan is a Blogger and Social Entrepreneur who founded first Anti Harassment Awareness Campaign “Stop Harassment Now”. The Purpose of this campaign is to empower and educate our Girls and Working Women against Harassment.