October 25, 2016
The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and its affiliate the Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ) have welcomed the recent decision by the Federal Ombudsperson Against Harassment of Women in the Workplace to prosecute the director of the state-run Pakistan Television (PTV) for sexual harassment.
On October 21, the ombudsperson, retired Justice Yasmin Abbasi, imposed a fine of Rs 250,000 (US $2400) on Athar Farooq Bhuttar and censured him over sexual harassment complaints filed by six female news anchors at the station. The news anchors in June 2016 accused Bhuttar of sexual harassment, humiliation and insulting behavior.
Emphasising its zero tolerance policy for sexual harassment, the PFUJ said, “The PFUJ has been following the case and has condemned the incidents of harassment of the female anchors while demanding the authorities probe the matter. This charge is welcome news, and will hopefully help to minimise such cases in the future."
In agreement, the IFJ said: “The IFJ welcomes this decision from the Federal Ombudsperson to prosecute Bhuttar for sexually harassing his colleagues at PTV. It also lauds the courage of those news anchors who spoke out in seeking justice for their suffering. It is hoped that this case encourages other victims to speak out. Everyone deserves to work in a safe work environment regardless of their gender and for this reason sexual harassment in newsrooms cannot be tolerated.”
The 2015 IFJ survey on gender, Inside the News: Challenges and Aspirations for Women Journalists in Asia and the Pacific, found that sexual harassment in the workplace continues to be a significant concern for women in the region. Almost 40 percent of female respondents said they had witnessed sexual harassment at work, mostly from a superior or colleague. - IFJ media release
Pakistan Observer, December 20, 2016