Alliance Against Sexual Harassment

Members: Action Aid Islamabad, Bedari Islamabad, Hawwa Associates Islamabad, Interactive Resource Center Lahore, Mehergarh: A Center for Learning Islamabad, PILER Karachi, PODA Islamabad, Preview Productions, WORD Islamabad

Untitled Document
Updated Law Documents
.Compliance Instructions
.Text of New Laws
.Code of Conduct
.Simplified CoC
.Implementation  Framework

What is gender discrimination and sexual harassment?

What is gender discrimination?

Gender Discrimination is an attitude or action/decision taken with a bias towards individuals on the basis of their gender.  

This usually occurs when a women is not given her due right only because she is a woman, or a man is assumed to do something only because of his traditional role as a man and not his merits or capabilities. For example if a woman is senior and is capable she may still not get a promotion only because the management believes that women cannot take on positions of high responsibility. Stereo typing a man or a woman into their traditional roles or associating them with careers traditionally associated with their gender would also fall under this category.  For example always asking a woman to make tea at professional meeting or always expecting a woman to be a teacher and a man to be a scientist.

What is sexual harassment?

Sexual harassment is defined as “any unwelcome sexual advance, request for sexual favors or other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature, when it interferes with work, is made a condition of employment or creates an intimidating, hostile or offensive work environment.

Sexual harassment can take many forms and may include, but is not limited to: unwelcome sexual advances, the forcing of sexual attention, verbal or physical, on an unwilling person; or the attempt to punish the refusal to comply. Specific examples are: verbal harassment or abuse, subtle pressure for sexual activities, sexual advances in the pretext of narrating sexual incidents, unnecessary touching, patting, or pinching, leering at a person's body, constant brushing up against a person's body, demanding sexual favours accompanying by subtle or overt threats concerning employment or advancement, physical assault, including rape.

There are two significant manifestations of Sexual harassment in the work environment, which are important to describe.

i) Abuse of authority

A demand by a person in authority, such as a supervisor, for sexual favours in order for the victim to keep or obtain certain job benefits, be it a wage increase, a promotion, training opportunity, a transfer or the job itself.

ii) Creating hostile environment

Any unwelcome sexual advance, request for sexual favors or other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature, which interferes with an individual's, work performance or creates an intimidating, hostile, abusive or offensive work environment.

The typical "hostile environment" claim, in general, requires finding a pattern of offensive conduct, however, in cases where the harassment is particularly severe, such as in cases involving physical contact, a single offensive incident will constitute a violation.