- Out of 91 complaints, 50 cases disposed of during the last six months
ISLAMABAD: A drastic increase in filling of number of harassment cases can be witnessed in the Ombudsperson Secretariat since the appointment of Kashmala Tariq as the federal ombudsperson for protection against harassment of women at the workplaces in February 2018.
According to the details, a total of 91 complaints/appeals have been submitted during the last six months of which 50 cases have been disposed of. Whereas 41 cases are pending which includes cases from the former ombudsperson as well as the cases which have been stayed by the Islamabad High Court and the Lahore High Court.
At present, inquiries of various important cases are going in the secretariat, which included Bahria College harassment case; Islamabad Club case against the administrator; appeal from the federal ombudsperson for maladministration; National College of Arts case and the complaint of Dr Fouzia Saeed from the Lok Virsa.
The Bahria College case, wherein allegations against the external invigilator — who was overseeing biology practical, as part of the final exams of the Federal Board of Intermediate and Secondary Education (FBISE), at the Bahria College in Sector E-8 from May 24 to May 27 — emerged on social media where several students, who had appeared for the exam, accusing the teacher of the sexual harassment, molestation and coercion.
The two top education bodies in the capital i.e. Federal Directorate of Education (FDE) and FBISE launched separate inquiries and formed committees in their respective organisations to investigate allegations of the sexual harassment and molestation levelled by intermediate students against an external invigilator. Sources told Pakistan Today that both the institutions in their respective inquiries established that he had found involved in similar practice in the past as well but even remained unpunished due to insufficient evidence.
They said that this time around, he was proved guilty and recommended the department concerned to remove him of his service. However, the sources said that the competent authority which is the Education Department DG failed to implement the decision due to which the complaint has been filed before the ombudsperson.
Similarly, another case of the Islamabad Club harassment against the administrator is in the secretariat in which a female official of the elite club accused him of sexually harassing her. The accusations surfaced four months after a female assistant manager of the club had reportedly committed suicide inside the club.
The sources said that the Ministry of Capital Administration and Development Division (CADD) constituted a team to investigate the matter, which stated the allegations of the woman were true, while the committee constituted by the club has given a different report altogether and termed the allegations false.
They said that since no action has been taken against the accused; hence the ombudsperson has taken up the case to take it to its logical end. In the case of the federal ombudsperson for maladministration, which involved a steno and assistant of the secretariat, in which the later leveled allegations of harassments on the former. An internal committee constituted which recommended minor penalty on the steno.
However, Additional Ombudsman Syed Haider Ali has directed to terminate both the officials. They said that the high-ups of the ombudsperson took notice of the issue and stopped the additional ombudsman from terminating both the official and now the matter is pending before the secretariat.
Similarly, another important cases such as the NCA case and complaint of Dr Fouzia Saeed are also pending before the secretariat. It is pertinent to mention here that till date, a total of 432 cases of harassment have been decided upon by the federal ombudsperson. Of the 432 cases, 107 applicants were men whereas 325 applicants were women.
Of the total number of the cases, three were unidentified, 174 were from the federal area, 163 cases were from Punjab, 57 were from Sindh, 28 were from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (including FATA) and seven were from Balochistan. –Shahzad Paracha/Hamid Khan Wazir