Human RightsRight to Information

Zero Implementation: Women’s Workplace Harassment Complaints Languish Unresolved

Federal Ombudsman Secretariat Fails to Resolve Over 88% of Harassment Cases

The Federal Ombudsman Secretariat for Protection Against Harassment of Women at Workplace (FOSPAH) has failed to dispose of harassment cases related to women in the workplace.

According to data obtained by Senior Journalist Saddia Mazhar through Right to Information (RTI), FOSPAH received 541 complaints related to the harassment of women in the workplace since January 2021. Shockingly, only 62 complaints were decided by the Ombudsman Secretariat, making up only 11.5 percent of the total 541 cases. Even more concerning is that none of the decisions made by the Ombudsman Secretariat have been put into action.

Furthermore, FOSPAH has not initiated any action against public bodies that have failed to enforce the orders issued by the Secretariat.

The list of organizations against which the highest number of complaints were received includes prominent institutions such as PIMS, NADRA, PTV, MEPCO, various schools, PIA, NATIONAL FERTILIZER MARKETING (NEML), St. Helen Covent Girls High School, Regional Training Institute Islamabad, State Life Insurance Corporation Multan, Quaid-e-Azam University, Institute of Cardiology Rawalpindi, and Institute of Optronics.

Curiously, the newsletter (October – December 2022) published by FOSPAH on its website claims a considerable increase in cases disposed of, stating that from 2018 to 2022, there were a total of 5,000 cases addressed. This contrasts starkly with the data available from 2010 to 2018, where only 482 cases were recorded.

To add another layer of complexity to this issue, FOSPAH has published a report titled “Transformation from 500 to 5000 cases,” and its launching ceremony was conducted at the President Secretariat. The discrepancies between the data provided to the Pakistan Information Commission and that available on the website raise serious questions about the authenticity of the information.

Currently, FOSPAH operates from four offices located in Karachi, Lahore, Islamabad, and Peshawar. The organization was previously under the leadership of Kashmala Khan (Kashmala Tariq) from February 2018 to February 2023. At present, Ms. Fauzia Viqar heads FOSPAH, tasked with addressing the growing challenges related to workplace harassment faced by women in Pakistan.

Also Read: 58 Harassment Cases Reported in 7 Islamabad Universities, Comsats Leads With 41 Complaints

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