A few days back, right after Meesha Shafi accused Ali Zafar of harassment on Twitter, one of my female friends Whatsapped me a selfie of the two of us from her birthday. Looking at the photographs, one could easily misinterpret the level of ‘friendliness’ shown by the young women in the photos. The snapshot’s caption was ‘I can easily claim that you attempted to take advantage of my ‘friendliness’ on my birthday party two years ago’.The message was shocking and worrisome, despite coming with ‘wink’ and ‘laughter’ Emojis. It was terrifying to think about the consequences if she actually made such a claim on social media. This latest #MeToo moment would come under the spotlight in mainstream and social media. Every channel would be picking up this ‘story’ as ‘breaking news’, without realising that this could destroy the reputation, career and family of the accused. Nobody cares about the concept of innocent until proven guilty when the crime is of a sexual nature. Regardless, my friend’s decision would be termed ‘brave’ and ‘bold’. Meanwhile, the damage done the accused’s reputation would be irreversible.Taking a glance at Meesha Shafi’s claim, one can easily come to the conclusion that making such noise on social media would get her instant sympathy from every corner of the world. Her claim was the top trend on Twitter the day she made her #MeToo Tweet. Rose McGowan, the Hollywood star, has lent her support to Meesha Shafi that proves that the ‘claim’ has gotten recognition across the globe. McGowan was one of the first women to publicly accuse powerful Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein of rape last year, which led to the #MeToo movement. More than 80 women, including actresses Ashley Judd and Cara Delevigne, have accused Weinstein of sexual harassment, assault or rape since then. Now the movement has made its way to Pakistan as well, after several well-known celebrities came forward with their own stories of being sexually assaulted.Those few who get convicted are pardoned by the higher courts for one reason or another. In a few cases, the President of Pakistan himself pardoned convicted men because they had a connection with the ruling partyShe tweeted: “Sharing this because I believe that by speaking out about my own experience of sexual harassment, I will break the culture of silence that permeates through our society. It is not easy to speak out. But it is harder to stay silent. My conscience will not allow it anymore #MeToo.” Ali Zafar has denied the accusations and has sent a legal notice to Meesha Shafi, demanding an apology and that the Tweet be deleted. He will be filing a Rs 100 million defamation lawsuit if Meesha fails to delete the Tweet and render her apology. In his reply Tweet to Meesha Shafi, he said: “I intend to take this through the courts of law and to address this professionally and seriously rather than to lodge any allegations here”.Now this dispute may be taken to a court of law. This has also caused ripples across mainstream and social media. It has brought to the fore once again the menace disrupting the lives and careers of workingwomen everywhere. In the struggle to become an economically strong country, Pakistan cannot afford to leave its women out of the workforce. Hence, an appropriate workplace and secure environment are a must to encourage women’s participation in economic activities. They shall have the right to pursue their careers on merit and without any fear of discrimination and exploitation.The Executive has largely failed to provide a professional and safe environment to women despite existing legislation. The political parties coming to the folds of power have no anti-sexual harassment committees at the district or national level to curb the menace. On the other hand, the Federal Ombudsperson Secretariat for the Protection of Women against Harassment at the Workplace has stated that in reality, most of such cases are based on false accusations and some cannot be proven. Convicting the accused takes a much longer time as well as evidence. Only a few victims have the stamina to follow through with the case until the end. Those few who get convicted are pardoned from the higher courts for one reason or another. In a few cases, the President of Pakistan himself pardoned convicted men because they had a connection with the ruling party. Despite weak prosecution and faulty system of justice, the victims of sexual harassment should opt for legal proceedings rather than making a hullabaloo on social media, as this will result in no punishment for the accused. Everyone in this society knows that the menace of sexual harassment exists, but public institutions, the Executive, the legislature and courts mandated to ensure that harassment is punished and discouraged remain silent and indifferent. We see insufficient steps and faulty practices against sexual abuse. The victims of sexual harassment and abuse need to get together to make a civil society pressure group to enforce legislation everywhere in the country. This may help strengthen the #MeToo campaign in Pakistan to save our long suffering women from sexual exploitation and abuse.The writer is an Islamabad-based policy advocacy, strategic communication and outreach expert. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. He tweets @EmmayeSyedPublished in Daily Times, April 27th 2018.