KARACHI - Harassment at workplace continues unchecked and there is no mechanism in Pakistan to counter-check it. Neither the supervisors are warned nor are they demoted for their behavioural problems towards their female co-workers. Though, bills are being passed and amended still many perpetrators of harassment are abusing their power of 'might is right. This was the crux of the detailed lecture that was delivered at AKU Auditorium on Monday evening, stressing the need for better awareness and phenomenal changes to ascertain that harassment is prevented at work places all over the country, but more specifically in Karachi. Speaking about the Protection against Harassment of Women at the Workplace Bill, passed unanimously by the Pakistan National Assembly in January 2010, Zia Ahmed Awan, President, Lawyers for Human Rights and Legal Aid emphasised that Pakistan was obligated to implement the international conventions it has signed and ratified - CEDAW (Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women), CRC (Convention on the Rights of the Child) and the many ILO (International Labour Organisation) conventions - in letter and spirit. There is also a need to allocate resources, financial as well as trained human resources, to implement laws, which have already been promulgated. He further said, Anyone who demands sexual favours, according to the bill, is either to be fined or is imprisoned for three years. Women must not fear for their safety, they should be provided safe and clean environment to work in and such supervisors must be taken to task and demoted or at the most removed from their respective service. He further said, that due to domestic violence increasing in the country, many women were now opting for divorce. Simi Kamal, Chief Executive, Raasta Development Consultants, spoke about the local environment in the country. In Pakistan harassment of women at work is not considered an issue worth discussing because the dominant male opinion is that the rightful place of women is the home, not the work place, she said. The activist said that it has taken many years of struggle by womens organisations to bring this issue to the notice of law makers. Simi Kamal discussed the steps needed to actualise the bill in accordance with CEDAW requirements. She said public and private organizations would need to develop an internal code of conduct, a policy on sexual harassment in the workplace and develop a complaints and appeals mechanism that would help establish a safe working environment for women. A government-appointed ombudsman would also have to be available, to document cases and arbitrate as needed, said the activists. While the effectiveness of the bill remains to be seen, Kamal said that as a first step, there is a need to create an environment where procedures are seen to be effective and binding. Madiha Zubair, Senior Alumni Officer, AKU, spoke about research on the impact of sexual harassment and pointed out that victims reported decreased job satisfaction and organizational commitment, and increased levels of stress, tension, anger, anxiety, depression and guilt. Giving out the statistics she said, women who faced harassment at work, were numerically placed at 25 percent of them were either fired or forced to quit; 27 percent had less confidence in life and 12 percent of them faced severe health problems. In some cases of extreme stress, women needed medical or psychiatric help. Nasreen Sulaiman Lalani, Lecturer, Aga Khan University School of Nursing, said that the situation was worse for women who work in the community, especially when they are seen promoting womens empowerment. Sharing experiences from research conducted in urban and rural squatter areas in Orangi Town, Sultanabad, Aarab Solangi, Jiskani Village and Dharo Mahesar, Lalani said that political groups regularly threatened female workers.