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Posted In: Blog
Posted On: 07, 03, 2014

Back To PostsWhy do women require special laws for protection?

by Maryam Akhtar

Every human has the right to a work environment that is free of discrimination, abuse and intimidation. Unfortunately, many are deprived of this basic right and are often the victims of power abuse. Usually, harassment is experienced and tolerated by women and the society seems to have become immune to harassment crimes - especially those that involve verbal or psychological abuse.

The law intended to protect individuals from harassment is called The Protection against Harassment of Women at the Workplace Act 2010. The name of the law implies that women cannot protect themselves so they require special laws for protection. Men, on the other hand, are their own protectors and hence don’t need a law to be named after them.

The notion that women are the weaker gender is deeply embedded in our society. While we’ve progressed into a technology-driven society and have jumped by thousands of percentage in productivity, the narrative about women and their place in the society has not changed dramatically. Is the mistreatment and abuse of 70% of working Pakistani women, therefore, an indication that we are not ready to accept women as breadwinners, as their own protectors, or as individuals with talents to be discovered?

Patriarchy undoubtedly represses the talents, desires and aspirations of a woman at the workplace. The patriarchal mindset assumes that every time a woman leaves the house, she is exposing herself to harassment. It reinvigorates the idea that it is better for a woman to stay at home to avoid harassment and that a man will protect her because she is incapable of protecting herself. Anti-harassment laws, however, if effectively implemented, can begin to play a role in changing this mindset. The social conditioning of women, by both men and women, has to be replaced with a more enlightened view of womanhood.

Picture curtesy:Voonik.com

This blog is part of a one year project titled "Answerability of the Ombudsman Office for Protection of Women" implemented by LEAD Pakistan with support of USAID. The views expressed here are those of the author, and not necessarily those of LEAD Pakistan.