Time & Location
About the Event
From the minute you hear someone shouting “it’s a girl” until after lowering her in the grave, there is an unbroken chain of discrimination and harassment...
“Sexual harassment is any form of unwelcome sexual behaviour – verbal, nonverbal, physical or visual - that is offensive, humiliating or intimidating”.
Almost everyone will agree with the above definition of sexual harassment. However, many forms of sexual harassment are not perceived as such and are widely accepted, even defended. Victims are predominantly women and perpetrators are predominantly men. Why women endure the vast majority of sexual harassment and intimidation?
It is in fact manifestation of the male self-perception, self-entitlement, power relations and the roles attributed to men and women. They are deeply embedded in patriarchal societies. Harassment takes place everywhere: homes, education, workplace, family, sports, hospitals, marriages, transport, everywhere. It is often justified under the guise of tradition, honour and religion or just “the way it is”.
“Blame the victim” practices, discourages women to speak about it. The victim is seen as a dishonoured person. “Rape culture” has now become an often used phrase in Pakistan. Wearing jeans, driving cars, bare arms and ankles, taking part in sports etc. are perceived to be “provocative” for men and reason of natural disasters. Female social workers are killed, women demanding their rights are threatened in public and demonized in the media, young girls are forced married, rape is given as punishment by “panchayat” and rape is used as a weapon in wars.
People carry this practice and mindset of “victim and victimizer” as a norm to new societies because the reference network seldom changes.
Things are improving very slowly in a few countries but getting worse in others.
This online Dialogue is meant to show us the mirror, contribute to and build on the understanding of various unspoken forms of harassment and their causes, hear about personal experiences of harassment and support women in their fight for their rights.
1. Mahnaz Rahman
She is a feminist and activist whose work for women's rights spans decades. She has written extensively on women issues and other sociopolitical issues as a working journalist from 1973 to 1993. She got the “Friendship Award” from the prime minister of the People’s Republic of China in 1991 for promoting Pak-China ties through her writings. Since 1993, she has been working as a development practitioner and her areas of expertise are training and advocacy for women rights, human rights and peacebuilding. In 2009, as a team lead of the women lobby team, she visited Brussels and Hague to lobby for minority and women’s issues and had meetings with high officials of the European Union.
2. Tahira Abdullah
She is a human rights defender, social scientist and economic development researcher and practitioner. Ms Abdullah works voluntarily for numerous trusts, civil society organizations, non-profits, policy groups, and academic bodies. She is a strong supporter of extremism-free education and easy access for women from rural areas. As a strong supporter of women's rights, she always raises her voice against all kinds of gender violence.
3. Dr Tahira Kazmi
Medical doctor, columnist, author and social activist, Dr Kazmi graduated from Fatima Jinnah Medical College Lahore and received a gold medal as an all-rounder student from Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto. Specialized as Obstetrics and Gynaecologist and served in different areas of Pakistan for 18 years. She super-specialized in education from Maastricht University, The Netherlands. At present working as a senior consultant Gynaecologist in the ministry of health, Oman. She started writing after a long gap, on social issues, gender discrimination and health. She has published one book "Kanwal Phool aur Titlioun kay Pankh" and another is under compilation.
4. Natasha Noreen
Natasha, a 26 year old feminist and activist advocating for migrant and women’s rights in Italy and Pakistan. She is a member of the European Network of Migrant Women (ENOMW) and Radical Girlsss to promote the rights of women and girls. Ms Natasha volunteers in several local associations that promote the inclusion of economic migrants and asylum seeker migrants in Italian society. She is the founder of Feminism Pakistan, a Facebook community that promotes feminism in Pakistan.