CADD Ministry yet to take action against official accused of harassing woman

ISLAMABAD: The Ministry of Capital Administration and Development Division (CADD) has failed to entertain a harassment complaint filed by a woman against a senior official of the Islamabad Club, Daily Times has learnt.

A female employee of Islamabad Club had lodged a complaint with the CADD secretary against a member of the Managing Committee of the club accusing him of harassing her when she refused to fulfil his ‘unethical and immoral requirements’.

Under the Islamabad Club Ordinance, 1978, the CADD secretary is ex-officio member of the Managing Committee of the club.

“He exceeded all limits when on September 21, 2017, he detained me at administrator’s office for more than an hour and engaged me in irrelevant and immoral conversation about his private life and used suggestive and extremely vulgar language. I could finally rescue myself after one and a half hours when another employee walked into the office,” she alleged.

Subsequently, the CADD constituted only a three member committee comprising its senior employees. Headed by Joint Secretary (Admin) Tariq Moj, the committee includes Deputy Secretary (Admin) Chauhdry Ramzan Ali and Deputy Director Shaista Azhar as members.

Tariq Moj, however, did not respond to repeated calls and text messages.

The aggrieved woman claimed that the HR Manager of the Club remained unresponsive when the official was apprised of the issue.

Sources said that some senior officials of the ministry were allegedly delaying the matter to put the facts under carpet to protect the accused.

Experts are of the view that such cases are hardly reported anywhere in the county. “Most of the working women in the country keep mum to avert their possible slander in a male dominant society.”

They suggested that if any woman dared to raise her voice against such discrimination and report it to some institution, then authorities concerned should take immediate and impartial action in accordance with the prescribed law.

The Protection against Harassment of Women at Workplace Act, 2010, defines harassment as “any unwelcome sexual advance, request for sexual favours or other verbal or written communication or physical conduct of a sexual nature or sexually demeaning attitudes, causing interference with work performance or creating an intimidation, hostile or offensive work environment, or the attempt to punish the complainant for refusal to comply to such a request or is made a condition for employment”.

According to this definition, harassment includes not only sexual harassment but also verbal or written abuse, which may affect the working conditions or make the working environment unsafe for an individual.

The main purpose of the legislation was to create a safe working environment where women may be able to contribute towards the economic growth of the country without any fear of harassment, abuse or discrimination.

As per the act, there are two types of punishments for the accused who is proven guilty in any harassment –minor penalties and major penalties.

Withholding promotion or annual increment (of accused) for a specific period and removal or dismissal from service are some of minor and major penalties declared in the act.

Published in Daily Times, January 28th 2018.