Pakistan: Backlash Rises against Bill on Sexual Harassment

– Can you imagine?   A country with nuclear weapons and an ally of the U.S. and they still want to keep their women in the back of the bus.  What a world.

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As a bill against sexual harassment of women inches closer to becoming a law in Pakistan, it is drawing fire from male politicians and conservative groups that have called it anywhere from un-Islamic to one that would lead women astray.

These groups are having last-minute jitters given that the first part of these legal measures to counter sexual harassment — Criminal Law Amendment Act 2010 — was signed into law by President Asif Ali Zardari on Jan. 29. This amendment, the result of two years of unswerving struggle by civil society, especially women activists, is aimed at protecting both men and women against harassment at workplace.

But the backlash from critics is rising now that the second part of the amendment — a specific law on the protection against harassment of women at the workplace — has been approved by the lower House of Parliament and is awaiting passage in the Senate.

‘It is against shariah (Islamic law)’ is how Sen. Gul Naseeb Khan of the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (Fazlur Rehman Group) views this second part of the bill. He was also the sole voice of dissent in the Senate when the first part of the sexual harassment bill was being debated.

In a television talk show, he said the bill protecting women from sexual harassment would only lead to the spread of vulgarity. ‘There is no need for women to seek employment because the responsibility for their upkeep lies on the shoulder of men,’ he said.

The only two professions women can take up, he argued, are teaching and medicine — and those are only if it is absolutely necessary.

Jamshed Dasti, a parliamentarian belonging to the ruling Pakistan People’s Party that tabled the twin bill, went against his party’s line to oppose their passage and vowed to put forward a bill that would protect men’s rights. He also termed the sexual harassment bills an insult to Islamic society.

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One Response to “Pakistan: Backlash Rises against Bill on Sexual Harassment”

  1. Mehreen says:

    THIS BILL IS A LANDMARK LESLATION IN THE HISTORY OF PAKISTAN AND THE PPL OPPOSING IT AND CALLING IT “UN ISLAMIC” SHOULD AT LEAST ONE TIME READ IT.