January 25, 2017
The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and the Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ) have strongly condemned the recent incident of sexual harassment of female anchors at the state-run Pakistan Television (PTV). The IFJ has demanded an immediate investigation into the issue and appropriate action on the perpetrators.
Two journalists – Tanzeela Mazhar and Yashfeen Jamal – have accused PTV Lahore’s Director News of sexual harassment; and taken up social media and TV talk shows to push for investigation after their complaint to PTV authorities yielded no results. Mazhar alleged that she had filed a complaint following the incident, only to be told by the inquiry committee that she should have left the job in such a situation.
Mazhar reportedly said: “I have been associated with PTV for about 15 years. I have no issues with the work environment. It is him who is causing problem for women. Several women had complained about him previously, but later withdrew their complaints for one reason or another.”
Meanwhile, PTV management on January 23 slapped a ban on two anchors for taking to social media and appearing in talk shows to ‘defame the organization’.
The PFUJ said: "We demand that the PTV authorities look into the issue and hold an inquiry immediately so that the culprit can be punished and justice be provided to the women anchors."
This is not the first time that state-run TV has been embroiled in allegations of sexual harassment. In October, 2016, the Federal Ombudsperson Against Harassment of Women in the Workplace slapped a fine of Rs25,000 and censured PTV Director Athar Farooq Bhuttar over sexual harassment complaints filed by six female news anchors.
The IFJ said: “The IFJ lauds the courage of two news anchors who spoke out in seeking justice and stands in solidarity with them. 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 IFJ demands a proper independent inquiry into the case to punish the culprits.”