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MOD, NCSW expedite efforts to implement harassment act.

ISLAMABAD, July 11, 2010 (Balochistan Times): To expedite the efforts for implementation of Protection Against Harassment of Women at Workplace Act 2010, the government has engaged Ministry of Women Development (MoWD) and National Commission on Status of Women (NCSW) to conduct awareness seminars at federal and provincial level. After the enactment of the law, the Act requires every institution, public or private, to form an inquiry committee to receive complaints of sexual harassment and incorporate a code of conduct prescribed by the law as a part of its HR policies. The inquiry committees are being formed in different public and private departments and the next step is to encourage victims of harassment to raise voices against injustices and discriminatory attitudes at workplaces. The NCSW has recently formed an Implementation Watch Committee (IWC) which would focus on the provinces and rural areas for the implementation of Harassment Act after its implementation and adoption of the code of conduct at the Federal level. Chairperson IWC, Dr Fauzia Saeed said the purpose of the Committee is to facilitate and monitor the implementation process of the recently passed legislation against sexual harassment. The management of those organizations which have adopted the code of conduct will be sensitized and inquiry committee members will be given training to handle the cases amicably. She said that the committee is hopeful that within the next six months, there would be a considerable number of organizations in the whole country with sound mechanisms of addressing grievances against sexual harassment. Fauzia said that it is myth in our society that laws are formulated but not implemented in letter and spirit. There is dire need to bring change in the mindset of people urging them to support the positive trend of raising voice against harassment, she said. Although, the watch committee will not handle the cases directly but give recommendation to resolve the issue. The statistics of the organizations and departments which have adopted the code and constituted committees will be collected by IWC. Fauzia said that Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani has made a verbal announced that a women ombudsperson will be appointed soon to address harassment complaints. Those who will not be satisfied with the inquiry committee decision can contact ombudsperson. The Implementation Watch Committee comprising 25 members includes senior representatives of the government, private sector, media professionals and civil society. Around 40 Federal Ministries and departments including Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Finance. Tourism, Health, Food and Agriculture, Sports, Culture and Environment, Islamabad Police, Highway and Motorway Police while 300 private organisations have already complied and incorporated the code of conduct into their policies. Fauzia said that Ministry of Women Development has agreed to conduct awareness raising seminars in the provinces, FATA and other areas about the law and its implementation. The Chambers are also being asked to send letters to their member organisations to comply with the law and report back. Dr Fauzia said that awareness seminars, training, brochures, booklets all are contributing to the process. AASHA member organizations are leading among the CSOs and holding awareness sessions in public as well as private sector organizations. The IWC members include Government officials, representatives of media, civil society, private sector organisations and donor agencies. The first meeting of the Committee was held recently to discuss the implementation updates of the law and to assign the responsibilities to the members of the Committee. The next meeting would be held in September.

(THROUGH ASIA PULSE)
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Publication:Balochistan Times (Baluchistan Province, Pakistan)
Date:Jul 11, 2010
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