Peshawar fines workplaces for not forming anti-harassment committees

Peshawar offices, both public and private, will now be fined up to Rs 100,000 for failing to form workplace anti-harassment committees.

The decision was taken by the provincial anti-harassment ombudsperson Rakhshunda Naz on Tuesday. Forty organizations have so far been fined for delaying the formation of harassment committees. They include schools, banks and health centers.

Naz placed these orders for the first time earlier this year. Organizations in the city had been instructed to nominate three women to the committee and submit their names to the office of the ombudsperson.

The KP Assembly passed the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Workplace Protection Against Harassment of Women (Amendment) Bill 2020 in January last year. Committees must play a conciliatory role in cases of harassment. They are responsible for settling the problems between plaintiffs and defendants and finding an amicable solution.

Amendments to the law on harassment at work

In October, the National Assembly approved changes to Pakistan’s workplace harassment law to expand the meaning of harassment, who is considered an employee and who can file a complaint. The amendments were, however, limited only to Islamabad.

Parliament approved amendments or changes to the definition of harassment so that it is no longer limited to sexual harassment. It can now include “any unwanted behavior that creates an intimidating, hostile, degrading, demeaning or offensive environment on the basis of age, disability, gender, religion or belief, and race or sexual orientation ”.

This is considered unwanted behavior:
Spoken or written words
Physical gestures
Facial expressions
Offensive emails
Comments on social networking sites

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