ISLAMABAD: President Dr Arif Alvi has awarded major penalty of ‘dismissal from service’ to Director General of Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA).
While upholding the decision of the Federal Ombudsperson for Protection against Harassment of Women at Workplace (FOSPAH), the President awarded the major penalty of “Dismissal from Service” to a Director General of PEMRA (the Appellant) and also enhanced the fine from Rs. 2 million to Rs. 2.5 million.
He held that it had been established beyond any reasonable doubt that the female employee was harassed by the accused with verbal, vulgar, sexual, and demeaning comments and demands by the Appellant.
The President observed that he took a strong exception and used the full force of the law when such matters were brought to light and were proven beyond doubt to ensure a safe working environment for the female gender.
This, he added, was aimed at unleashing their great economic potential which remained unexploited due to their fear of harassment at the workplace.
The President ordered that the amount of compensation shall be recovered from arrears of pay (if any), pension emoluments or any other source (property) of the Appellant as per Section 4(i)(d) of the Protection Against the Harassment of Women at Workplace Act 2010 and be given to the complainant as compensation in lieu of the hardships faced by her at the hands of the Appellant.
This landmark decision was announced after the President gave personal prolonged hearings to the accused, the complainant and their counsels on 22.07.2022 and 25.07.2022, besides factoring in the evidence and recording the statements of the witnesses on record and minutely perusing the entire proceedings of the case.
In his decision, the President noted that the accused continued harassing the complainant unabated even during the proceedings of the case by FOSPAH, in his suspension period, by filing applications against the complainant to IG Police, Islamabad and to DG (FIA), Cyber Crime Wing, Islamabad, thus, inflicting grave mental torture to the complainant and putting her repute at stake.
The President added that the said act of the accused was a flagrant violation of the laws of Pakistan, particularly the Protection Against Harassment of Women at Workplace Act 2010, and a blatant example of how women were discouraged, even those brave ones who come forward risking their reputation, to file cases of harassment. “The statistics with reference to the number of cases are infinitesimal as compared to the anecdotal discussion of the frequency of harassment in our society”, he added.
In his order, the President wrote that women, who were more than 50% of our society, were unable to work freely because of possible harassment. “Public spaces are reduced for them; educational opportunities which is their right have been denied to them by their parents in certain cases because of the fear of harassment at the educational institutions as they look for “girls/women only institutions”.
As a result, women in our society are mostly undereducated, severely underemployed, financially constrained, denied proper inheritance and discriminated against at the time of promotions.
He said that Islam kept women in high esteem and provided them with the right to pursue gainful occupations and employment by ensuring a safe, secure, dignified and respectful workplace environment.
He said that due to these reasons, Bibi Khadija (RA), the wife of the Prophet (Peace Be Upon Him), was a businesswoman and Hazrat Umar (RA) appointed Al-Shifa’ bint Abdullah as the custodian of the market who was entrusted with the portfolio of the Accountability Court and Market Administration.
The President further added that Hazrat Umm-e-Kulsum bint Ali was sent on a diplomatic mission to the court of the Queen of Rome and many women took part in battles including Hazrat Ayesha (RA), Umm-e-Salim (RA), Umm-e-Ammara (RA) and Umm-e-Saleet, Safiyya bint Abd al-Muttalib, Umm-e-Atiya al-Ansar (RA) Rufaida Al-Aslamia and Asma bint Yazid ibn Al-Sakan who protected the prophet in battles, treated the wounded soldiers and provided them logistic support and served them with water and food.
The President quoted a recent judgment of the Supreme Court in a case of harassment wherein it was noted, “It is time to pave the way towards the actualization of robust and unwavering constitutional ideals and values by embracing the participation of women in all spheres of life with honour and dignity”, and that “No nation can rise to the height of glory”, in the words of the Founder of our Nation, Muhammed Ali Jinnah, “unless your women are side by side with you. We are victims of evil customs. It is a crime against humanity that our women are shut up within the four walls of the houses as prisoners.
There is no sanction anywhere for the deplorable condition in which our women have to live.” Keeping in view the established facts of the case, the President directed the relevant authority to implement the order in letter and spirit and furnish compliance to Registrar FOSPAH within the stipulated period.