Harassment at Radio Pakistan: Dismissal of four cases surprises NA body
By Khawar Ghumman
ISLAMABAD: It seems women who falsely claim to be harassed are quite common at the Pakistan Broadcasting Corporation (PBC).
A house committee was taken aback when it was informed by the PBC officials on Tuesday that four such complaints had been investigated over the last few months and dismissed for lack of evidence.
The National Assembly standing committee on information and broadcasting, however, remained sceptical of the claims.
The committee headed by Belum Hasnain of the PPP called for a fair investigation into the complaints. It said nobody should be victimised on the basis of personal enmity. The meeting was held on the premises of Radio Pakistan.
Later, talking to Dawn, Shireen Arshad Khan of the PML-N said: “To the utter surprise of the committee members, we were told that the PBC had rejected charges of workplace harassment by four female employees of Radio Pakistan against their colleagues.” She added that the PBC officials had contended that the complaints were mala fide and, therefore, dismissed. “How come all of them have been proven wrong,” she asked.
During the meeting, the committee was informed that one of the accusers had appealed against the decision and the PBC management was looking into the matter again. Hence, the committee decided to wait for the outcome of the appeal before it gave its recommendations.
It appears that the committee was aware that it was not the first time a female employee of PBC had alleged sexual harassment at the workplace. “Yes, I know that stories of women harassment at the PBC have been doing the rounds for quite some time,” Ms Hasnain said in response to a question. This is why, she said, the committee had warned the PBC officials that in case of any wrong committed by the corporation, the guilty would be taken to task.
It is worth mentioning here that the parliament early this year had passed a bill declaring harassment at workplace a punishable crime. Punishment for the guilty, or violators of a code of conduct, will range from censure to dismissal to an unspecified fine under the law.
The law defines harassment as “any unwelcome sexual advance, request for sexual favours or other verbal and written communication or physical conduct of a sexual nature or sexually demeaning attitudes, causing interference with the work performance or creating an intimidating, hostile or offensive work environment, or an attempt to punish the complainant for refusal to comply with such a request.”