LAHORE - Speakers at a meeting on Women Harassment have called upon the provincial government to re-activate the Punjab Implementation Watch Committee formed to facilitate and monitor the implementation of Workplace Harassment Legislation.

About 30 representatives of over 20 organisations, including public, private and corporate sector participated in the sitting on Implementation of Law against Harassment, jointly organised by Mehargarh, WISE (Women in struggle for Empowerment) and WAR (War Against Rape) here yesterday.

They discussed their experiences and appreciated each other’s achievements and sharing the challenges being faced in handling cases.

Punjab Implementation Watch Committee was formed as a result of the Women Empowerment Package announced by the Chief Minister on March 8th, 2012, but after the first two meetings it went dormant.

Similar committees in Sindh and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa are performing much better.

With such a dynamic provincial leadership that cares about the rights of women, the Women Development Department and the Provincial Commission on the Status of Women (PCSW) can play a crucial role in taking this work forward, the speakers said.

Speaking on the occasion, Maliha Husain, Executive Director of Mehergarh, requested Fauzia Viqar, Chairperson of the PCSW, who was also present, to help re-invigorate the Punjab Implementation Watch Committee. “It is very encouraging to see such senior public officials, private sector representatives, educational institutions and civil society sitting together to share their experiences of implementing the workplace harassment Act,” she added.

Bushra Khaliq, Executive Director, WISE, said that even before the passage of the law, over 300 organisations voluntarily adopted the Code of Conduct including her organisation. “We have been working on this issue since 2002. Sharing her organisations’ recent contributions in facilitating implementation of the workplace harassment legislation at the district level,” she said about 155 volunteers were trained in 8 eight district of Punjab during campaign against sexual Harassment.

Fauzia Waqar, Chairperson of the Punjab Commission on Status of Women, shared the performance of her office and talked about how the official help-line, 0800 93372, was being used by women to get their issues resolved.

She added the women victims of sexual harassment also contact her office however, and get referred to ombudsperson.

Farkhanda Waseem Afzal, Punjab Ombudsperson, also participated in the session and shared that the number of cases being received by her secretariat is increasing every year, which is very positive.

She also discussed the law against harassment at workplace and the legal framework of its implementation.