Sexual harassment: Stop whining and do something about it!

Published: November 7, 2012
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Do not be silent if you disapprove of inappropriate jokes or sentences with dual connotations. DESIGN: IMAAN SHEIKH

“Where are you, ‘baby’? I am waiting.”

No, this is not an SMS from someone’s fiancé, husband or boyfriend. This was sent by a colleague to another colleague of mine. After a few minutes of disbelief, she was engulfed by anger and replied,

“Are you in your senses? What kind of an SMS is that?”

To her utter astonishment his reply was:

“Err.. Is mein kia tha?”

(What was wrong in that SMS?)

The reply indicated how casually men take their behaviour towards the fairer sex. No, I do not want to re-emphasise here how often we have to face difficult workplace situations. No, I do not want to quote the various incidences of sexual harassment that all of us working women face in one capacity or the other. And no, I do not want to discuss how dressing modestly or covering your head can prevent sexual harassment; this is all said and done.

Let’s discuss the solution rather than the problem for a change.

After having spent a considerable time in the corporate world, here are a few strategies that might help us in dealing with sexual harassment/ inappropriate behaviour at the work place.

1. Be vocal about your dislikes:

Do not be silent if you disapprove of inappropriate jokes or sentences with dual connotations. Be clear with your male colleagues about your dislikes when they try to cross boundaries. This does not necessarily mean being very rude. You can tackle the situation by trying to change the topic or saying clearly:

“Woah woh, this topic is clearly getting out of hand!”

Accompany this sentence with a sarcastic smile. This often does the trick. If not, try a simple “excuse me?” and make sure it is dripping with contempt.

Men are generally intelligent enough to get the signal; they are usually just trying to act foolish so that they can get away with anything.

2. Don’t be embarrassed; it’s the culprit who should be:

Just like in cases of rape, incest, child molestation and others, women usually choose to remain silent about sexual harassment at the work place out of the fear that speaking up will cause further embarrassment to them and there will be no use in escalating the matter.

This is wrong; silence is not the solution. Speak up so that your daughters and grand-daughters do not suffer the same fate as you!

Unfortunately, it is a part of our Pakistani culture to create difficulties for the victim rather than the culprit. But, hey, don’t lose heart. We have to change the culture and bringing about a good change is never easy.

3. Formulate a support group:

As we spend maximum time at our workplace, it is imperative to have a support group on which one can rely. Find like-minded people, discuss your problems with them, and when in a serious situation like this, ask for their help. Our mind doesn’t work so well when we are caught up in a difficult situation, but others can give valuable suggestions for the solution.

4. Don’t sympathise with the offender:

Almost all organisations now have sexual harassment policies in place in line with the Anti-Sexual Harassment Bill in Pakistan. Don’t think about the consequences for the offender before discussing what he did to you with your human resource department. The culprit truly deserves the punishment. If he does not care about his job, so shouldn’t you!

5. Know that you are not weak:

Due to our upbringing and culture, we women sometimes develop a very dangerous mindset in which we think that we have to bear what life hands to us. Think differently. We have the power and the ability to handle any situation in life. Everybody gets their strength from different sources ─ friends, family, God, religion and so on. Understand what gives you your strength and be determined. You do not deserve to be harassed and you must speak up!

PS: I do know that all fingers are not equal and by the same strain, all men are not alike. I would, thus, like to thank all those men who have been a big support to women at their workplaces.

Stay cool!

Read more by Erum here.

Erum Fatima

Erum Fatima

The author is a banker turned into a freelancer, trying to juggle motherhood with work, squeezing some random writing in between. She tweets as @erum_fatimaa (@erum_fatimaa) and add Daraz deals on www.couponsdxb.com/store/daraz-discount/

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • islooite

    Respect Erum . It is a dilemma that we Dont have proper introduction /enforcement of harassment bills . Many many incidents go unnoticed. We need to work on it . As far as work place harassment takes place ,some people do cross boundaries in work place , its better to say them shut up up rather then ignoring and staying silent. Well done !Recommend

  • I.

    Precise and to the point blog,delivering the message simultaneously.Well done!Recommend

  • Conservative

    Islam forbid mixup of men and women either in work place or elswhere. If you will go against Islam you have to face the same problems. Recommend

  • BlackJack

    Excellent approach and very-well structured content. Good stuff!Recommend

  • Male

    Nice one!Recommend

  • https://twitter.com/BajiPlease Baji Please

    Very nice, author. Some strong thoughts here. A practical solution. A like, tweet and +1 for you.Recommend

  • Nandita.

    I’m guilty of point No 2. Being embarassed !

    Walking upto the HR and speaking out is not as easy as it sounds. Especially if the culprit is someone senior who has been around for a reasonable amount of time and is well respected. I’d rather initiate an internal job transfer. The stress of trying to prove myself and being up against a respected colleague would be too much for me to bear. So as I mentioned earlier – the solution for me would be an Internal job posting.i’m a whimp.! I know!

    Also,Receiving a text message with the word ” baby ” in it is highly inappropiate but please understand – sexual harassment emcompasses much much more than this.

    You should have put in some pointers about dealing with the roadside lichchads as well. ( I love this word – thanks gp65)Recommend

  • Parvez

    Excellent write up.
    The line between sexual harassment and ‘male / female interaction’ in the work place is a little blurred. I do feel you are correct, that it should be the female who defines this line and the male should respect this.Recommend

  • shuja ul islam

    APPLAUSE..all the ladies listen to THIS woman..!!Recommend

  • De

    Best is the excuse me part. If a straight talk doesn’t work. Try getting that colleague into trouble and face embarrassment. Or just ignore him.Recommend

  • ignorantways

    first you galz shouted out for education of women

    then you shouted out freedom of women

    then you shouted out sexual harresement

    then you came up with ” haqooq e naswaan bill ”

    then u came up again with implementation of that bill

    then u again came up with increasing rate of sexual harassment cases

    then you must come up with an other bill

    and its look like an arc again and again coming back to lowest level !

    Recommend

  • sara

    nandita i wud hate being called baby by any of my colleagues!Recommend

  • Nandita.

    I applaud the author’s attitude of not being victimized and urging others to do the same but I do think these simplistic solutions may not always work. A derisive comment and look may put a male colleague in his place but the same approach cannot be used when dealing with random men one would encounter outside the office – Being vocal in those situations would only egg the perpetrator on. The solution lies in enforcing stringent laws. It may not always be a good idea for a woman to take on eve teasers , but what every woman can and should do is try to bring about a change in her own household, try to mould the mindsets of her brother/sons and other men in her family and teach them to respect women.
    Please understand – it is easier to deal with men in the office because men are aware that woman have a recourse here – approach the HR. ( although woman don’t always use that route as mentioned in my earlier comment ) This fear in a man’s mind might compel him to behave in the office but what about men on the roads? If we’re really serious about tackling this menace – stringent laws need to be put in place and men need to be taught to act differently from an early age.. Recommend

  • Shahid

    @Conservative: Please spare us! Please! I beg you! Leave us alone!Recommend

  • Saleha

    all men are same ;(Recommend

  • Nitish

    Et,what about the men who r being harassed by women.Is there any blog to deal with them?I dont know about pakistan,but we have good experience in india.Atleast two of my friends have been dumped after being committed for a relationship.Consecutively,I came across two blogs on the same topic on this site.Pl Dont have double standard? publish one for us man.Recommend

  • zahra.mohammed

    Stop whining Nitesh! Be the change you want to see. Write the piece and send it in

    Recommend

  • Nandita.

    As far as harassment at the workplace is concerned – it’s very easy to advice a lady to approach the HR but very few woman would actually go down that road because On one hand – women are encouraged to seek help but when they do , more often than not they are judged/stigmatized and if the man in question is someone with a lot of clout ,her chances of receiving justice are drastically reduced.
    Let me come up with a fictitious example –
    – X is a Senior Manager working with this a company for the past 10 years. He has an exemplary record. Very well respected.
    – Y is a young girl who has just started working for the same company.
    – Mr X makes a pass at Y or asks for a sexual favor.

    How should Y react ? Should she approach the HR ? Will they believe her and what chance does she stand of receiving justice? Recommend

  • Nandita.

    Haha. !

    Zahra – You rock ! Recommend

  • Nitish

    Some people need to stay away from me…hahaahaRecommend

  • Turbo Lover

    @Saleha: Really? If this is how you will behave, then it would be alright to think that all women are bossy, spoilt princesses who spend all their husband’s/boyfriend’s hard earned money on plastic surgeries and cosmetics. I scoff at your level of maturity.Recommend

  • Critical

    @Conservative:
    Islam forbid mixup of men and women either in work place or “elswhere

    World would have been a better place if “elswhere” included the bedroom too ;)Recommend

  • Erum

    Excellent approach & very-well write up…applausesRecommend

  • umair

    Awareness is a big problem in our country specially ignorance,at the time of harassment women should take a step forward and slap that person in front of whole office.this will make a huge difference in the office,and it will boost up the courage of other females in that office.thanks
    [email protected]Recommend

  • Think tank

    What if a woman is harrassing a guy?
    That could happen! :oRecommend

  • gp65

    @Author: Most of your suggestions are fairly practical, so thanks. I agree with Nadita with regards to going to HR – especially in the type of situation she described. In theory the job of HR is to protect an employee is realty they are focussed on avoiding a lawsuit, so they would rather discrddit the employee with the complaint – than take action against the guy.

    @Nandita.: I agree that when the matter reaches the point where a sexual favour has been requested, seeking internal transfer is best way out as rarely does HR intervention help as it becomes a case of He says she says’. Having said that, more often than not, it ispossible to prevent things from coming to such a pass. Usually such creeps will try to test a girl by taking some small liberty and if she stays quiet out of timidity or shyness, will continue to progressively take more and more liberty until things come to a head. So the best way is to establish boundaries firmly and politely very early. The worst that can happen is the guy will call you khadoos – alternative is he will call you chaloo – so you can’t win anyway. I prefer the label khadoos to chaloo. In Gujarati we have a saying ‘ek nanno sau dukhne hane’ i.e. ‘one no solves hundred problems’.

    @nitish: Breaking of relationship is not sexual harassment. In any case this author’s suggestions are gender neutral so if you feel you are being harassed feel free to use them.Recommend

  • Dante

    Calling someone baby does not count as sexual harassment, FYIRecommend

  • shuja ul islam

    @Saleha:
    have u tried all of them..!!:PRecommend

  • http://uptonogood.tumblr.com Red

    The threat of being reported for sexual harassment works just as well. That’s what I did when a man at the office kept sending me unsolicited mails after I had already made it clear that I was not interested. He finally stopped after I called him out on it in the office without hearing range of a dozen other employees and he eventually shifted branches.

    Btw, reporting to HR does not work in a lot of companies. They sometimes have a “this is a common scenario – learn to deal with it” attitude. Recommend

  • Seema

    @dante whoever male of female u r. try calling ur counter parts ‘baby’ and see for urself. I, for one, HATE being called with any sweety cutie names, by ANY of my friendsRecommend

  • http://blogs.tribune.com.pk/author/908/erum-naqvi/ Erum Fatima

    Thanks to all of u for your feedback; positive or otherwise :) @Nandita, u r right.. dealing with sexual harrassment is not that easy & simplistic.That is EXACTLY why i thought of writing this blog. This is definitely not all encompassing and all women r welcome to share their ways of dealing with it :)Recommend

  • gp65

    @Dante: “Calling someone baby does not count as sexual harassment, FYI”

    DIsagree. Using terms of endearment for a colleague which are not warranted by the level of friendship is the start, then a random of-colour joke , then a personal comment about appearance. The person who wants to harass will continue to test the girl with progressively higher levels of offensive behaviour. This is why – as I suggested to Nandita earlier, the sooner boundaries are established the better for all. This is why, I particularly liked this example by the author. Recommend

  • Nandita.

    @Red:

    The creep sent you an email ? Must have been one hell of a fool because men are generally smart enough to realize that a written record would be damning ! If you have proof to validate your claim, then by all means approach the HR ( even then I’m not too confident of how the HR will react.Depends on the kind of company you work for)

    @gp65: hmm. Maybe true in some cases, not so much in others.

    @Author: didn’t intend to offend you. I do appreciate the pointers here, just wanted to add my two cents. :-)

    TO women in general: more power to all, stay safe!Recommend

  • Nitish

    @gp65
    @Dante: “Calling someone baby does not count as sexual harassment, FYI”
    DIsagree. Using terms of endearment for a colleague which are not warranted by the level of friendship is the start, then a random of-colour joke , then a personal comment about appearance. The person who wants to harass will continue to test the girl with progressively higher levels of offensive behaviour. This is why – as I suggested to Nandita earlier, the sooner boundaries are established the better for all. This is why, I particularly liked this example by the author.
    This is really very interesting.But when my GF calls me baby or cutie..what should i do.Should i feel offended as she considers me like kid or men have no right of objection in the case of women … Recommend

  • Nandita.

    I agree with Dante. Calling someone baby – in itself does not count as sexual harassment ( even though it is highly inappropriate to address someone in that fashion). The man in question could just be a flirt or a man who really does like you. It could also be a potential sexual predator testing the waters – whatever the case may be boundaries should be established, there’s no doubt about that. But if someone addressed me as baby I would term that as inappropriate and slam the man but I wouldn’t term it as sexual harassment. Recommend

  • Hasan

    Thanks God, a different article on harrassment! Good job!Recommend

  • Brutus

    nobody talks about the girls in universities getting more marks from the teachers..and if they dont get marks then they approach the teacher in a manner that he is obliged to add some extra marks….what do we call that..!Recommend

  • Nandita.

    @gp65:

    Having said that, more often than not, it is possible to prevent things from coming to such a pass. Usually such creeps will try to test a girl by taking some small liberty and if she stays quiet out of timidity or shyness, will continue to progressively take more and more liberty until things come to a head.

    This may be true in some cases- in a few cases it may be possible to prevent things from escalating to the level that I described. But from what I have heard from others and read about, many of such creeps are not deterred by resistance offered by women.They take resistance as a challenge. Many don’t even bother testing the waters,they proposition the woman anyways- many a time they do so repeatedly. Complicated subject, isn’t it ! Recommend

  • shuja ul islam

    @Brutus:
    U dont say things like this..!!Recommend

  • Sajjad

    Brutus that is like comparing apples to orangesRecommend

  • Mehfooz ur Rehman

    well done author :)Recommend

  • Nandita.

    I agree with Dante. Calling someone baby – in itself does not count as sexual harassment ( even though it is highly inappropriate to address someone in that fashion). The man in question could just be a flirt or a man who really does like you. It could also be a potential sexual predator testing the waters – whatever the case may be boundaries should be established, there’s no doubt about that. But if someone addressed me as baby I would term that as inappropriate and slam the man but I wouldn’t term it as sexual harassment.

    The man in question could just be a flirt – I meant the man in question could just be indulging in some harmless flirting. Just wanted to clarify.Recommend

  • ab

    Most men (some dirty licherr exceptions do exist) will not do this if some sort of firm boundaries are set by the women . The female should be very sensitive to the jokes been thrown at the workplace . Don’t try to get involved or let be too personal involving them.

    the only solution to this problem is to counter it through some brave means. Straightaway the female in concern should talk to HR, if he doesn’t stop, show the SMS to another female college ,form some sort of a bond and directly go to the boss.Recommend

  • Insaan

    How did the man got her phone number? Why did the woman even reply by SMS. Only a Pakistani man will call a colleague a baby. In other parts of the world, a man will only do that if the girl is flirting with him or gives signals “wanna be friends”. Change the topic or saying clearly: “Woah woh, this topic is clearly getting out of hand!”, with a sarcastic SMILE may send a wrong message.

    Some times a woman says “no” a few times before saying “yes”. Not so simple matter.

    Sexual harassment happens even occurs in Islamic Universities.Recommend

  • Insaan

    @Conservative: Men are supposed to lower their gaze when they see a woman. Women even in burqa get raped, groped, sexually harrassed in many Muslim countries.

    Most Muslim women in US don’t wear Hijab or burqa. I have never heard any “Muslim” women being raped in USA, while many Muslim women in Hijab or burqa get raped in many Muslim countries. That shows Muslim men are the reaal problem.Recommend

  • gp65

    @Nandita.: “The man in question could just be a flirt – I meant the man in question could just be indulging in some harmless flirting. Just wanted to clarify.”

    Agree that the term ‘baby’ is not itself sexual harassment. As yu said though it is inappropriate and if boundaries are not established at this time, the person will most likely test boundaries with more and more liberty. Also it is unlikely that in a conservative country like PAkistan, the man is not aware of social norms enough for this to have been a harmless flirt.Nothing is impossible but this is very unlikely. Though the response in the article from the guy when the girl put a stop to it is not unexpected – t is more a case of jaankar bhi anjaan. That’s fine if it is a face saving way for a guy to realize -don’t mess here no harm no foul.

    Also what you say is ofcourse true that my suggestion will not work in all cases. That is why I had qualified it with more often than not.Also while I generally do no believe HR can help, if a man keeps testing imits, girl keeps resistuing and he still takes more and more liberty then there is a record that HR will have to consider. Just my 2 cents.

    As the author and you said though it is complicated (sounds like facebook status – eh?)Recommend

  • Red

    Insaan: “Some times a woman says “no” a few times before saying “yes”. Not so simple matter.

    Woah, back up there buddy. No means no. I am a little sick of some men trying again and again after you have already said no and are showing absolutely zero interest. Contrary to what you may have been told, we know our own minds. What you may be describing is interest…it will never be a categorical no. I am pretty sure men can tell the difference because not all men keep pursuing you after your no. I respect those men because they respect themselves. The rest, I then have to be rude to for an excessively long period, sometimes spanning a year, before they give up. Not fun.

    @Nandita

    It was a long time ago. I am no longer working there and I’m pretty sure he suffered enough after I chewed him out. His mails were in the form of “can I send my parents over?” I was as polite as I could be at first but he was one of those men who couldn’t take a no and didn’t stop mailing me when I told him to so I had to go yell at him. My life would be so much simpler if men didn’t assume pushing would get them a different result. Recommend

  • Red

    As regards the argument regarding “baby”, I consider work to be a very professional environment which has no place for such terminology. I would consider it to be very rude and would confront them over it. Pakistani men know this is not a word you use on someone randomly. I would be taken aback if even a friend used it outside of a work place context. Even if you are flirting with someone the first time, using “baby” will not get you anywhere in any part of the world. It is cringe-worthy. Please. Don’t. Recommend

  • Nandita.

    @gp65:

    err, I admit I actually had India in mind when I wrote those comments where such terminology is used by flirts. Not that uncommon in India. So from my point of view, using words like “baby” etc is highly inappropriate but no where close to being sexual harassment.

    Can’t speak about Pakistan as I’ve never been there- but I do feel if men can disregard social norms and sexually harass women or rape them even, then surely these social norms are not going to prevent them from indulging in some harmless flirting.

    I guess our views differ on this topic. And I’m bored of the discussion as well :P …. Besan ke laddoo banaye hai maine diwali ke liye. Chahiye aapko ? :))Recommend

  • Shahid

    Even if a girl is walking naked on a road or a marketplace, no man should ogle at her. All the conservatives here are talking non-sense.Recommend

  • Insaan

    @Red: Woah, back up there buddy. No means no.

    I agree with you, men should respect you when you say “NO” and leave you alone.

    Have you ever been in a situation where you were interested in some one and he was not interested in you?

    You choice of name “RED” indicates stop. There may be women who may like “GREEN” (keep going) or Yellow (proceed with caution).

    A simple internet search of “when a girl says no she means yes” got 239,000,000 hits on Firefox. I have some personal experiences, but I would rather not share, just to respect my friends.

    here is joke about…………

    “When a politicians says ‘Yes’, he means ‘maybe’, when he says ‘maybe’, he means ‘No’, and if he says ‘No’, he’s not a politician,” he continued.

    “When a lady says ‘No’, she means ‘maybe’, when she says ‘maybe’, she means ‘Yes’, and if she says ‘Yes’, she’s not a lady’,” he said, as some in the audience laughed. Recommend

  • Insaan

    @Red: “The threat of being reported for sexual harassment works just as well”

    Depends what country you live in? In countries like USA sexual harassment is taken very seriously. Inaction on complaint may result in management /company being sued /taken to court.

    In countries like Pakistan even when a woman is raped, she may not be able to do much.
    Police may even refuse to register an FIR.

    Just search “Pakistan rape” on you tube.Recommend

  • Insaan

    @Nandita.: every woman can and should do is try to bring about a change in her own household, try to mold the mindsets of her brother/sons and other men in her family and teach them to respect women.

    Have you changed mindset of anyone yet? No man wants his sister, mother, wife or other women to be disrespected. Can you elaborate a little bit more how this thing can be changed?

    Mankind has tried many ways to control this problem.

    Why do you think Muslim women are forced to wear burqa in some Muslim countries? Why Muslim women are not allowed to talk to non-mehram men. Religious police is used to keep unrelated men and women from talking to each other. People get stoned to death for messing around or rape. A Muslim girl can be killed for just talking to a boy A fifteen year old girl was killed with acid in Azad Kashmir this week. Millions of girls in countries are subjected to FMG to kill their interest in sex. Women still get sexually harassed/abused in all these places.Recommend

  • Arif Ali Khan

    @Conservative: That was a downright stupid reply. Women should never have to endure any kind of harassment from men. You should be ashamed of yourself by bringing Islam into this discussion. For a start men who follow Islam should never misbehave with women. Get a life!Recommend

  • kanwal

    @conservative
    Your idiotic religious belief is not my Islam. And this sick approach must change. I feel bad for your mother wife, mother, sis amd daughter.Recommend

  • Guy from the UK

    Trust me guys, things will only go downhill if guys and girls mix. Living in the UK, we are 1 or 2 generations ahead of you in mixing of the sexes, and i’ll tell you a sad fact of what Pakistan is falling to.

    Imagine the majority being single mothers being 15year old girls who have children, and their biological father has abandoned them for another girl (because he can’t handle the responsibility of being a father). The majority of mothers in the UK fit this category, and if Pakistan doesn’t follow Islam’s conservative laws and wisdom, they will fall prey to the same corruption and distress the people in the UK are going through.

    If you don’t believe me, just wait and see Pakistan within a generations time. A sad reality many won’t accept until its too late.

    May Allah help us, amen.Recommend

  • Conservative

    @Guy from the UK… deeply agreed with you… Sadly “follow the gora concept” is increasing. Recommend

  • http://uptonogood.tumblr.com Red

    @Insaan

    Like I said, men understand nuances. If I’m not picking up calls or make a point of ignoring you every time we meet or am going to painful lengths to be strictly formal with you or being excessively rude with blunt, one-line replies, it’s high time you dropped your pursuit. I never say no when I mean maybe. When I mean maybe I say exactly that – it means I’m not sure I like you but I’m willing to keep talking and see if at some point that changes. Simple enough, right? Some men take that as a no and get all offended and disappear. Not my problem if their comprehension skills are low or if they can’t understand that I can’t possibly like you when I don’t even know you that well yet. I don’t go by how pretty you are or how much money you’ve just told me you make and I’m certainly not going to marry you just because I know you exist in the world. These men are still better than the first category. They have a little self-respect. Yes obviously means yes. The whole concept of “lady” needs to be chucked out the window since it’s just a way of controlling the behavior of women. Men need to grow up. You want women to be equal…let them show you they know what they want instead of doing a little song and dance and acting all flighty to fit into your idea of what a woman should be like so they don’t scare your little manhood away by their boldness.

    The threat of sexual harassment would work just as well in Pakistan if the man has a little dignity and doesn’t want to be publicly embarrassed in front of his colleagues in what is a good company. It is not just the fear of law that makes the threat effective. It obviously won’t work on all men and in all work situations.Recommend

  • Jawariya

    Shahid, there should be more good men like you out there. More real men like you.

    There is NO excuse for sexual harrassment. And it goes entirely against Islam as we know it. Those who justify it hiding behind the fake pretext and very misguided view of Islam, and conservative culture should be ashamed.

    At the end of the day it is a bad choice, based on ignorance, outdated patriarch systems, and unwillingness to see that we, women and men, both need to live together in the same society. Nobody should taunt, harrass or threaten an other. It is just plain logic.

    All women deserve respect merely human to human. If you would not treat a woman of your household like that, then how can you treat another woman like that – be that at work, school, public places.

    It is a problem, even in “advanced” and “islamically strong” countries like Egypt. Its in fact rampant there.

    Sexual harrassment can only be dealt with through proper reforms, but education, people comes first. It starts at home with the parents’ upbringing and the values or lack of they instill in their offspring. If a boy is taught women are object and only has bollywood, hollywood as a point of reference as far as mixed gender mingling, then he is a problem once he is let out into the community when older. He will bring the attitude to school, work and influence his peers.

    Umair, another good man, is right that awareness is needed.

    I have encountered it so much in Pakistan, I started wearing a burka. Little did it help. It is like vile animalistic mentality which dictates you can touch and grope any female.

    When I got older, I called one man out. On a public street. Crowded with shops and shoppers to the brink. You know how many devout Muslim Pakistan “men” helped me in holding him accountable?

    None.

    Two women passed me and told me to just ignore as this was daily occurence. That broke my heart. But they were right.

    I did call him out through, and I KNEW it was him. He denied saying I made it up and hurried away. Yes of course, I just decided to drop everything in the middle of my shadi shopping and call out a complete stranger guy because he sexually harrassed me just for the fun of it in a very public street!

    I was actually expecting the fathers, brothers, husbands, – the muslims – who stood there would grab a hold of him and teach him a thing or two. At least support a “sister”.

    I realized “ummah” is only a figment of the imaginative or the imaginative islamic republic of Pakistan.

    Oh the hypocrisy.

    I since left to go abroad and started working in a mostly all young male team in a financial institution.

    Nobody ever touched me, let alone made any sexually explicit comment or joke to me, around me or about me. Maybe one day Pakistan can reach the same awareness. I hope.

    I put my home in good muslim men like Shahid and Umair. Thanks for bringing hope.Recommend

  • Jawariya

    @Conservative:

    Thats your view. Women and men already mix even in Saudi Arabia and even during hajj.

    There is no excuse for touching a woman who is not your mahram in marriage and then hide behind the pretext of gender mixing.

    May I also suggest you familiarize yourself with the fact that all scholars do not agree on this. If this was fact then we would be extended part of Afghanistan under Taliban regime.

    I suggest you go to various fatwa websites and contact as many scholars as you can and ask their opinion on this gender mix up.

    If you get a Unanimous yes, then you better make hajj and umrah segregated too. Afterall women and men going around in circle while body parts touching. A hand there, a hip here,

    Hardly appropriate and one may lose focus. Maybe hajj and umrah could happen on alternate days.

    You are not realistic. Your view is similar to saying, well if you are muslim and go abroad, then you expect trouble in terms of being considered a national security risk and terrorist etc.

    Is that fair?

    No.

    Should a man be touching a woman against her will instead of minding his own business?

    No.

    Did the prophet Muhammad, touch the woman who he saw OUTSIDE and who aroused him, so he hurried home and went to his wife.

    Thats what real men do.

    The rest just hide behind pseudo conservatism.

    Why don’t you come out and claim a woman is responsible for being raped too?

    Remember you have women in your house hold too. Allah see and hears all.

    You are not untouchable. You are refutable, however,Recommend

  • Jawariya

    @Saleha:

    No, no, see men like Shahid above?

    There are good men. We just need to hand out more slaps and groin kicks when ignorant men cross their bounderies.

    I wish all Pakistani women took Karate or such self defense classes.

    Trust me,

    He won’t do it again ;)Recommend

  • Insaan

    @Jawariya: After all women and men going around in circle while body parts touching. A HAND there, a HIP here, Hardly appropriate.

    Let me guess it is mostly men who accidentally touch women body parts while going around in circles.Recommend

  • Jawariya

    @Insaan:

    Couldn’t say. It is pretty much unavoidable in such a mixed and congested place. It was just directed at the conservative hysteria of women and men mingling. Even at the time of the Prophet Muhammad, women attended in public. At the end of the day I find the view that men can not control themselves insulting to both women but certainly also real men who do not fall for temptations.

    Temptations are everywhere. But it within a man as much as a woman to contain himself and refrain for acting upon it.

    The divine book, Quran, puts forwards a great example which these conservatives should be familiar with but are not.

    I suppose seeing conservatives are so worried, they should honestly stay home. Not the women. Afterall it is the criminals who need to be locked up. Not the victims. But then its Pakistan, criminals rule, victims – are left at the mercy of God. Whats next, lack of dubatta means women have to accept rape?

    It is upsetting because with the age of the internet and information at our beck and call easily and readily, in 2012 this is still an issue. Women – oh my god – how scary we are. I wonder if conservatives may benefit from a chastity belt. In the literal middle age sense. Oh and handcuffs (no wandering hands). Then I have no problem.

    Hey maybe we should join forces :) Seriously picture conservatives in external chastity belts and hand cuffs :-PRecommend

  • Jawariya

    @Guy from the UK:

    Seeing as you are so concerned, why not move back home to Pakistan then? Or is the mixing too much a habit to forego of?

    Respectfully, you paint a dark picture without nuances. You forget the teenage mothers you speak off are due to great and grave socio ecnomic problems and failure of youth and social ghettos and the need to belong.

    You forget that teenage mothers also live in Pakistan.

    You state no statistics. So are we to take your word for that you have roamed all of the 60+ million population of britain and ascertained this first hand?

    If you believe what you wrote, then really I welcome you to put your money where your mouth is and quit your lifestyle there, sell off your assets, take your money and come live in Pakistan or one of the wealthy countries where islam is law. Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Oman – you have many options.

    Otherwise it is kind of hypocritical to put forward such scare tactics while residing in the same “hell” you warn others off. Nobody forces you to endure it.

    In other Muslim countries like Malaysia, Indonesia, Egypt, Qatar, Oman – there is free and advanced social mingling between genders. These are stable, affluent and advanced societies. Yet the picture you describe of the UK is not seen in this countries.

    I have myself lived in the UK and I certainly never experienced what you describe. I didn’t go out much but I lived in a mixed student house. No problem. There were all muslim student houses too – mixed. Lets keep a context, shall we?

    Segregating genders will not eliminate the problems you describe. In PK there are issues of worse nature going on and I think much of it is caused by this segregation which is abnormal. If somebody will sin, they will do it from there car, there house, even their bedroom. Internet is every where. Even the poor have cell phones. How much do we ban and segregate?

    Societies can and do work fine with gender mixing. I find many who advocate women staying in do so because nobody wants to shift the power from the establish patriarchs. Nobody wants to share power. What will happen if the girls behave similar to the buys. How about the boys get their act together and stop being hypocritical then we can discuss this girls. Values come from within. Not through enforced bans and segregation and censorship of half the population.Recommend

  • Insaan1990

    @Jawariya: It is pretty much unavoidable in such a mixed and congested place.

    women with uncovered faces and men with no underwear going around in circles, I can imagine hormonal rush & things getting out of control….I like your idea of external chastity belts (with pins) and hand cuffs :-P. Recommend

  • Seema

    Hey. Good read.

    My concern for point no. 4 to consult / discuss your HR. What if HR is sexually Harrasing you supported by Management who thinks its not SH rather simple job responsibility or a humor at work?

    Woohhoo… Don’t you know this is Pakistan !!!Recommend