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sexual harassment cases in Pakistan
sexual harassment cases in Pakistan

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How to Counter Sexual Harassment in the Pakistan Workplace Environment

14 minutes

Women in history have been facing tremendous barriers as they sought opportunities that would set them on an equal footing with men globally let alone in Pakistan. In most countries—rich and developing—they are going to school more, living longer, getting better jobs, and acquiring legal rights and protections. But large gender gaps remain. And women have less opportunity to shape their lives independently and make decisions than do men.

The movie of this Faysal bank supervisor was taking rounds among so many sexual harassment cases that occur each day and also a lot of people have very toxic perspectives about the victim. As per the news, the guy not only got reported to the State Bank of Pakistan but also has been permanently banned from ever working in a bank and arrested.

Let me break down the Pakistani workplace for women:

With the ease and convenience with which the manager is seen carrying out the abuse, it’s evident that it’s been happening repeatedly and the poor girl may not be the only victim. Meanwhile, Faysal Bank execs are busy working on policies to make burqa’s mandatory. If they haven’t created a safe working space for women, a mere burqa is not going to cut it. Whether FB employees like it or not, the abuser’s casual demeanor while committing such a deplorable act is a reflection of the bank’s work culture. I wonder if the insistence upon the new dress code is due to an overwhelming number of sexual harassment reports. And rather than treating the underlying cause – the disgusting creeps, they’re simply covering up the women in the hope that their new policies will stop this vile, and abhorrent behavior.

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What baffled me about all of this, is the fact that he was being filmed, and I came to the conclusion that it was probably being filmed because he had been doing it repeatedly at the time, to the same girl. Chances are the reason she didn’t react, is because it’s probably the fourth, or fifth, or the countless times he had done it. Making excuses to return to the desk and touch her every time, at which point the person filming thought it prudent to catch him in the act! Such kind of managers deserving slap and spit on the face.

“Ask him in front of all the colleagues that what did you just do?”

Which colleagues? The same one in front of whom he is openly groping her without a concern in the world? You think he was scared of those colleagues finding out or was going to be embarrassed? He was assaulting her openly in front of everyone with pure impunity. That explains everything there is to understand. He was the boss and did whatever he wanted without any fear and that’s why the girl had to get the video made and out in public because inside the bank nobody dared say anything against the boss. Why is this so difficult to understand?

She must have responded

The claim was, it was certainly consensual. Women in banks know their rights. There are very strong policies in place and a lot of emphasis is placed on harassment. As both of you know nothing in the world works without evidence, so she smartly created evidence. If it was consensual, she wouldn’t allow him to do it in front of other people, people have affairs in office, and they do it hidingly. She is not likely to grow a set of balls to respond against a harasser. Actually, it wasn’t consensual. Forget consent, lets say they are married, is it ethical to such things in a public place? The girl clearly was under pressure so she asked her colleague to make a video because she was sure that the guy would do that again. So yeah, it was pretty obvious. If you’re a girl and respond to these things happening to you personally, please thank God you have the environment and support system to offer you that guts to do so. The majority of women fear retribution not just from the harasser, but also from their own families at home who’d blame them instead of helping them. To the people asking why she didn’t react, everyone has their own nerve level. That’s why we have laws so that the law exacts justice and not individuals, or some people would just suffer because of ignorance or lack of courage or some other economical political impediment, while others would go overboard for similar reasons.

Fighting back, shouting, screaming is an exceptional reaction in such situations. Going into a frozen zone is also a reaction for people who are frequently abused, they are frozen in front of the predators. Maybe she was scared her reaction would make a scene, maybe she was already threatened. When was the last time you responded to a senior/boss and managed to maintain your work? Additionally, she did respond, she left this movie. And amassing proof is a hundred times stronger than responding to the place. This woman is much smarter than the whole bunch of you. People who are commenting why didn’t she do anything or why didn’t she react are the dumbest, ignorant pieces of shit. I think it’s irrelevant why she didn’t react, they should kick the guy out from the bank and tell him never to approach this girl. Authorities should take strict action.

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She should have quit the job

office empathySecondly, why didn’t she quit? How does quitting help improve anything? She loses her income, the criminal finds/hires another victim. We don’t need organizations or societies with emboldened criminals, we need societies and countries where criminals are punished and live in fear of punishment, under a judicial system. I think it is amazing how folks assume victims should just instantly leave the job. Such an announcement demonstrates that you encourage harassers and believe that they are entitled to continue to remain as repeat offenders. Victims will merely emerge and speak if the machinery will not attempt to attack, isolate, and blame them. Why should the victim’s livelihood suffer? To anyone who thinks she should have a “reaction”. Go and slap your boss the next time they scold you because of course, you too should have a reaction when someone misbehaves with you right?

Freezing, not reacting, or losing speech is one of the most common and FIRST responses most sexual abuse victims experience during the abuse (please look this up and do your due diligence on this) and it is a widely known fact that this is the number one psychological challenge sexual abuse victims acquire therapy for in order to understand their own brain’s lack of capacity to react at a time when a reaction was needed most. The reason for the frozen state is often explained as ‘an extraordinary trauma’ that leaves the victim almost incapacitated and incapable of even finding their own voice. If you were to ever talk to an abuse victim, they will most commonly tell you that at the time of abuse they were experiencing an ‘out of body’ state because their brain was trying to process the stress and trauma being caused to it.
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I am honestly tired of this victim-blaming shit. I am sharing a link for above such people to learn more about the dilemma of sexual abuse victims so you can consider showing some empathy prior to making such insensitive remarks in the future. Read: The Impact of Trauma on Adult Sexual Assault Victims. A victim of harassment isn’t losing respect, she/he is losing their basic human rights. If anyone is losing respect, it’s the criminal. We need to stop expecting victims to run away from their abusers to save this notion of “respect”. It’s made cowards out of women and made them feel being abused or harassed was somehow their own fault because it wasn’t happening to each and every woman around them.

What this woman did was unbelievably clever, which explains the reason why the guy got arrested for something that he clearly does frequently. I hope you are surrounded by empathetic people because they make great friends, partners, and colleagues. Empathetic people grasp your point of view. They get how you feel and they treat you as someone truly valuable to them. We can be those empathetic listeners to people around us when we practice a few simple habits: Listen attentively, reflect head and heart, realize that saying “I’m sorry” doesn’t mean “I failed.” She made a video. Or asked someone to make it for her, I don’t know. All I feel is sympathy for that girl, I don’t what her life or psychological background is. If she has kids to feed, or has no family protection whatsoever or what kind of friends circle. I just don’t know. What the man did was criminal. The woman’s reaction isn’t relevant.

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If a person is the victim of sexual harassment, what actions should they take?

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Recent news stories have showcased a few instances in which successful young business leaders displayed an obvious lack of empathy. While entrepreneurs who rise to the top quickly can be known for their aggressiveness in pursuing the next great deal, those who don’t have the ability to put themselves in their customers’ shoes will find people flocking to competitors who do. By building a culture of office empathy, you will find more stable long-term business success, and initiative and innovation in your workplace may rise, as well. Move into a productive problem-solving conversation without all the blaming and finger-pointing.  

The managers of good cultured organizations respect well. Respect in the workplace is huge. Empathy has many different definitions that encompass a broad range of emotional states. One is experiencing emotions that match another person’s emotions; discerning what another person is thinking or feeling; and making less distinct the differences between the self and the other. In this article, empathy is grounded in the acknowledgment of challenges (especially for women) and the opportunities we encounter at the office: Office Empathy. First, let us understand office empathy.

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The five steps of office empathy

When somebody is put into a difficult situation at the office they deserve office empathy

  1. Listen attentively
  2. Reflect head and heart by paraphrasing the emotional state, and the content of the conversation
  3. Apologize even though it may not be your fault
  4. Followup to rectify the mistake
  5. Repeat
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Bosses practice Office Empathy

  1. Paychecks and bonuses aren’t enough. Give your staff regular positive feedback to reinforce the value that you place on a job well done.
  2. Don’t be afraid to fail. In order to foster a climate of creativity, be prepared to embrace failure, and learn from it. Micromanagement is the worse kind of office behavior. Giving your employees room to be more creative also means providing them the room to take risks and to fail occasionally. Allow them to embrace their own missteps and use the information gained to move forward.

Use a few strategies to find out how others see you. Get 360-degree feedback from a variety of people, at all levels, inside and outside your organization. If you get a critical comment from a customer or an employee about your management style, take it seriously, and try to understand why you produced that reaction. Being open with others about your own quirks and flaws demonstrates leadership. It humanizes their view of you and encourages them to be candid in constructive ways that could end up leading you in a positive new direction.

Think of a recent conversation you’ve had with someone. Imagine what the art of empathy would’ve looked like during that conversation. What is one way in which you could’ve displayed even more empathy? As you display a genuine understanding and concern for others, you may be pleasantly surprised at how smooth your challenging conversations can become. Do not miss any chance to demonstrate office empathy.

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Why Are There So Few Women To Do Sexy Jobs?

Any woman handling responsibility is sexy. Sexy as in it’s a desirable, attractive position. We all agree that data and technology are the future jobs and women should not be left out. This is a pressing problem for an industry already too constrained by talent. Fortunately, it looks like female representation in the new master’s programs is closer to parity, which bodes well for the future. But still, firms need to do more to attract and retain women in data science in the meantime. Maybe the problem is that the jobs are still considered by many as “sexy”. This is another example of unconscious bias. Do sexy people get sexy jobs? That rings a dull bell, think about it. But when we say an exciting job, that rings a bell with an interesting tone. We need to stop making these unconscious bias statements and level the playing field. The evidence shows that balanced teams deliver better results. This is true for every work sector, not just STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and mathematics) or data. Honest, hard-working, and intelligent women do exist. The main reason is the bias (shown by men and women) towards women doing any job requiring a high intellectual level.

Barrister Hamna Shah, a qualified Barrister from Lincolns Inn, with an overall experience of 7 years, providing legal consultancy services in Karachi and Lahore, on a broad range of corporate and commercial issues, gave a talk in Urdu at Zen Law Chambers. She identified the following problems that happen in the lives of Pakistani women: 

  1. Access to education
  2. Employment opportunities
  3. Sexual harassment
  4. Gender-based Violence
  5. Economic and political empowerment
  6. Domestic violence
  7. Right to divorce
  8. Child custody
  9. Equal pay/ Wage Gap
  10. Women’s political representation
  11. Iced out of industries

What is verbal sexual harassment? Are you a victim? Barrister Hamna Shah can be contacted at humnashah@yahoo.com

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Why Professional Women are better managers than Men?

It’s a known fact that women earn less and are less economically productive than men almost everywhere across the world. And women have less opportunity to shape their lives independently and make decisions than do men. It’s like women are co-dependent on men and we cannot ignore that fact especially in Pakistan. No matter how educated and literate a woman is at the end of the day she is in every aspect of life dependent on their male members of the family.

No one is reducing the existence of women (or men) to the title of sexy. But the field would benefit if both men and women were attracted to those jobs if women viewed the positions as desirable as men did. Changing prevailing attitudes is the hardest task anyone can TRY TO DO. This is why Elementary Education is so important, via dedicated, hard-working instructors–from parents, teachers, and ministers. Our youth come onto earth as, ‘blank slates’. We do not attribute sexiness to concepts like data or objects like cars. We remember when cars were advertised as sexy. We also remember when cigarettes were “sexy”. They were sexy because a bunch of sycophants said they were. Leave Madison Avenue tripe out of it. As far as trade magazines, hire technologists, not “writers” to write articles. Women do not need a hook to read something necessary to their career because they are social animals that like pretty things rather than dwell in caves with other smelly nerdy men. There’s weren’t many female pirates either. 

With that said, we will also submit we are in the middle of a generational confluence where older generations have historically less interaction with technology than younger generations.

  1. Imagine that there would be no reason to bring new “qualified or skilled” people since all (males and females) have the knowledge and skills or be able to do the current jobs;
  2. Data analytics implies more than statistical/math knowledge like intuition and that is an important skill that women have it naturally.

Computerization and automation to analyze big data in order to push products, services, money, people, places, and things for an ever-expanding civilization. Women may have the talent but not the training. Part of the issue is related to a growing hiring skew away from (Bio)statistics in favor of Engineering and Computer Science, which is more male-dominated than (Bio)statistics. The expanding echo camber in data science that evangelizes trendy methodologies like ‘deep learning’ and ‘machine learning’ to the exclusion of everything else (as if time series, for example, couldn’t form accurate predictions) and the lack of awareness that (Bio)statistics programs teach machine learning and coding explicitly as core classes and also not as an end but as a means to completing every homework assignment must be addressed if we are to draw new hires from increasingly neglected core Data Science programs more greatly represented by women. Women tend to be multi-functional and detail-oriented much more so than men and women have the patience needed for IT jobs.

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Why are so few women involved in roofing, and for that matter, construction?

How many women accountants, real estate brokers, and bankers were there in the previous generation? And, how many are there now? Information Technology jobs for women falls into much the same trending as those jobs. Most people prefer interesting and colorful work, not just women. Stereotyping gender roles is still a hot topic, especially at the professional level. We also need to stop introducing gender stereotypes to children which, frankly, starts at home! Because women do not exist merely to carry the title of being “sexy.” We believe the key to changing this ‘perception’ that females have on STEM-related careers is education from a very young age. We need to get the message into primary schools, not secondary schools. If left to secondary school, it’s too late.

For workplaces to change, men need to change – and be seen to change! You don’t need much confidence to deal with data, compare to dealing with men in the business world, data is just a piece of cake. Some cultures are the main drawback to females enrolling in certain roles. Career break from marriage, raising children prevent them from dedicating the time needed to keep up with the pace of the continuously evolving Data science field. Oddly, no one complains that dirty, dangerous jobs like sanitation work, window washing, coal mining, construction, deep-sea fishing, etc. are “male-dominated.” Just the well paid, safe, prestigious jobs in air-conditioned offices. Again looking at Dubai we should be amused by the enrollment of female taxi drivers. 

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Do women bear a heavier load balancing work and family?

We think the work/life balance thing is the biggest factor, but it’s too easy to just put those words on a job ad. So we actively model our family-friendly work culture by not being shy about fitting my work in around our childcare responsibilities (pickups, drop-offs, sick days, parent days, etc). Balancing family and career is a tough act to do. This just goes to show that women are a risk-taker and a multi-tasker. If parenting is such a bad deal for women, why do they continue to have babies? Women tend to be the “default parent” no matter what it seems. Even outside of societal views of women’s “roles”. This imbalance is very real. This comes from a narrow-minded view of a woman’s “role”. This is taught to us by our parents first, our culture outside of our family secondly, and finally by our society as a whole. But it does not rock solid. Companies are slowly starting to wise up, especially in the IT / Tech/data worlds. The issue with “family time” versus work time isn’t Just about the women. This is a bigger topic than a simple gender role. And even the still critical Point is that women want to have children. This is still a career killer.

As prejudicial as you may think it sounds, women do bear the burden of a balancing family and work more than men. And, because of that reason, job stability is a greater issue than chance taking. Add to that the remaining gender role bias that’s about… and how disconnected men are to their families. Men are a lot more distant and will put career over their kids. Plenty of dads have to make the “big boy” choice and can’t have it all either. Some single parents (man or woman) HAVE to find a work-life balance – still keep up with trends and changes in tech and BE parents (they don’t have a choice outside of welfare). The bigger issue is the cost of living. You CAN’T reasonably raise a family and work a corporate job. Even making 50+k a yr barely covers bills in a single-parent household. When you have a spouse that doesn’t work, whose sole job is kids…. that’s an additional dependent. That’s more money that ONE person needs to make. So to make ends meet, most families it requires two incomes.

So it’s not JUST about the woman… never was, never will be… we applaud those men who face the same struggle women do to balance family and work.

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Because having a “sexy job” is not the number one motivation for most professional women!

After decades of feminist whining, most people have had it with the incessant and ever more trivial demands for more female privilege. We would implore any female out there with any ability or interest in any of the STEM-related disciplines to GO FOR IT. We need more like you in the industry. Become the role models this sector needs. Women are awesome in this field particularly for their ability to collaborate! Please ladies that are looking to get hired, join Linked In groups that specialize in job opportunities in Data. Men need to model to girls that being smart is sexy to keep middle school girls interested in STEM too! 

There were always enough women in STEM or at least in the last 20-30 years; those who fire the women with education are the same males who want to keep their jobs and high paid salaries although they are incompetent. Pakistan is falling behind but it can be attributed to other factors. At Information Technology University there are over 100 male persons and less than 10 female persons in the first year. Universities such as ITU are providing amazing opportunities for young girls to become involved in STEM – #STEMforGirls #goENGgirl – hopefully the increased interest in STEM-based careers correlates to an interest in decision support/analytics/performance measurement! Even in some parts of the industry, we are bonded to very old-fashioned and traditional role concepts. We know what we are talking about as women are working in a male-dominated industry. Women need a model but there are so few of them. We try to do Networking and mentoring here with the younger women to avoid them from the Trouble Pakistani women have been through and to strengthen their own self-confidence. Women are so well educated and trained but the industry still does not see them as a future Parameter.

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