Any unwanted or unwelcoming activity which makes a person feel uncomfortable or stressed comes under sexual harassment. It affects the person’s ability to work freely and leave him/her depressed and mentally tortured. Sexual harassment is not only common in Pakistan but in other parts of the world as well. For example, America, Europe etc. However, in other countries laws are formed and implemented to condemn such activities.
There are laws in Pakistan to protect women against harassments, but unfortunately, general public is unaware of them. Moreover, along with passing the anti-harassment laws, the government didn’t create awareness on such legalities. This is not a very openly discussed issue in our society and people normally hesitate to report this.
There are several types of sexual harassments which are extremely common in our society. However, it is important to discuss the four main types.
1. The most common one is ‘Men harass Women’
Mostly, women have to face the sexual harassment on daily basis and in a worse possible way at various places. More than 80 % women and young girls go through this from men at workplaces, homes, public transports, educational institutions or at different public places like markets, parks etc. The main reason is, the men take the advantage of the victim’s vulnerability and helplessness.
The women of our society are usually trained to keep quiet on such issues. They rarely raise their voice against this torture. Somehow, they are afraid of the fact that the people, society and their family will ultimately blame them for any such act of harassment or abuse. Young girls who face this kind of shameful acts are not trained and confident enough to share their experience with their parents as a result harasser feel free to do whatever they feel like and there’s no one to stop them.
Usually, people who harass women or young girls belong to their own family or are close relatives. People don’t consider them guilty because they trust them unconditionally and blindly. Women should know about their rights and duties. Specially educated women, human resource professionals and popular social work organizations can offer information, advice and support to the victims as well as the common women and also counsel them how to deal with this kind of situation. Mothers should also educate and train their daughters how to face any unwanted situation.
The most important point is when women complain about the sexual harassment or abuse, she’s normally blamed for her dressing and attitude towards others which is condemnable. Ignoring the situation and person, will not help at all. Moreover, do not blame yourself for the harassment. Place the blame where it belongs to. On the harasser. Self-blame can only complicate the situation, cause depression and other psychological issues.
2. Men harass Men:
Male with male sexual harassment cases are becoming more common. Many men and young boys face unwelcome touch, offensive sexual comments, jokes or unwanted sexual advancement from other men around them. Forceful touch, sexual advancement, insistent requests, unwanted sexual invitations or any such behavior resulting the promise of reward or undue favors at workplace comes under sexual harassment or assault.
The dilemma of our society is that even young children are not safe from such shameful activities and they usually face them by the people around them. A very large number of children become the victim of sexual harassment or abuse at an early age sometimes by the teachers, relatives or uninvited guests who visit very often. Street harassment is also very common in our society. Many young men become the victims while playing or working at the street restaurants or garages etc.
Men take the advantage of their helplessness as many children are forced to work at such places to fulfil the financial needs of their families which somehow, depends on what they’re earning on daily basis. They hardly share their issues with their parents as they belong to the lower middle class, are already facing multiple issues in life. This is the sad reality of life.
3. Women harass Men:
A growing number of men have been reported to be sexually harassed by women mostly at workplaces or even at homes. Unwelcome sexual advancement, requests for sexual favors and other verbal or physical activities of sexual nature that could affect the ability and performance of an individual comes under sexual harassment. Creating an intimidating, hostile or offensive environment is also the same.
Women of sick nature take the advantage of the helplessness of some men or young boys and use them for the fulfilment of their sexual needs. Many men may not report such cases because they’re afraid of being mocked by the people especially if they are abused by women. They feel ashamed as naturally, men consider themselves more powerful and influential than the women. Such kind of unwanted acts of harassment or abuse could hurt their self-esteem and ego. They neither report nor discuss such matters.
Even young boys hesitate to do so. Men usually think they’ll handle the issue in their own way. Whatever may be the reason, many men do not claim of being sexually harassed by women, in Pakistan.
4. Women harass Women:
This is the least common kind of harassment in our country but the fact is it does occur at various places. The issue of sexual harassment has an impact on the decisions of many women in Pakistan. They are not ready to leave the comfort of their homes and work. Even women and girls working at the places where there are no men, face such issues. Some women use their colleagues and subordinates for such criminal and shameful activities.
At present, when Pakistan is tottering at the verge of social and economic development, our womenfolk deserve the protection and security of the state and the lawmaking bodies so they’re able to become the useful members of the society. Every individual has the right to present themselves in the way they feel fit and proves themselves to be confident enough to face the challenges of the modern world and no one should have the right to interfere in their privacy and make them feel threatened physically, mentally or sexually.
The whole system needs to be altered or overhauled. There’s a need to create an environment free of harassment. There should be severe punishments for the violation.
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.