Sexual harassment: Print media 'slowest' in adopting code of conduct -Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF)

Paksitan Press Foundtion

Sexual harassment: Print media ‘slowest’ in adopting code of conduct

ISLAMABAD: The process of adopting a code of conduct to protect against sexual harassment is slower in media organisations in comparison with other workplaces.

The National Implementation Watch Committee (NIWC) Chairperson Dr Fauzia Saeed said Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) said media organisations have been notified to comply with the anti-sexual harassment law to ensure a conducive working environment. But only a few channels have taken the lead to adopt the code and constitute inquiry committees, she said.

Some private channels including Geo, Express, Dawn and Pakistan Television Network have implemented the law while print media organisations are lagging behind in this process, she said.

To ensure complete compliance of the harassment act, NIWC will send notifications this week to regulatory bodies which have not yet adopted the code, Fauzia said.

After adoption of the code and formation of committees, the members of the inquiry committee will be imparted training to deal with harassment complaints in their respective organisations.

The federal ministries and departments, Higher Education Commission (HEC), Chambers of Commerce and Industry, State Bank of Pakistan, Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) have notified all their attached departments to adopt the code and form committees for redressal of the complaints of their employees.

So far, the awareness seminars for the staff of ministries of law, finance, population welfare, women development education, health, planning commission, chamber of commerce have been arranged while the process of raising awareness at grass roots level is also going on, Fauzia said.

She said that the law will also be implemented in all the women crisis centres besides schools, colleges, hospitals and banks.

Alliance Against Sexual Harassment is raising awareness as well as imparting training to the inquiry committees both in public and private sectors. The alliance has also established legal centres in Karachi, Hyderabad, Lahore, Peshawar, Multan and Islamabad to raise awareness about the harassment act and Section 509 of Pakistan Penal Code. The lawyers, councilors and community members are involved to provide legal aid to the affected people, Fauzia said.

According to the law, it is mandatory for all the organisations to display this code of conduct for their employees at a prominent and accessible place. The officials of the NIWC will visit the organisations to check the working for the law in March this year.

The provincial governments are also directed to take steps for swift implementation of legislation to protect women against harassment and Punjab is working on a fast pace in this regard.

She said that the provincial chief ministers were also called upon to immediately appoint ombudspersons in their respective provinces under the law to hear and decide the complaints of women against harassment at workplace.
Source: The Express Tribune
Date:1/25/2011