I was going through my news feed few days ago and I came across this news that Kashmala Tariq, Federal Ombudsperson for Protection against Harassment of Women at the Workplaces, said that “Good Morning” message is harassment towards women. And later she posted on her Twitter account that “I said unwelcoming and unwanted text messages and stalking on social media is also harassment. And then I gave examples. Media shall not take just one line out of context please.”
I understand that harassment is a big issue, but women in our society have the wrong way of putting their arguments together. Kashmala Tariq could have said that forcing to start a conversation by sending “Good morning” messages is a form of harassment. It depends on the type of conversation men or women want to start after the Good morning messages. It is such a complex issue; we can’t close our eyes and declare every Good morning message as harassment.
This reminds me of women’s day when a big number of women were protesting with unusual slogans. Some signs said, “Bister Khud Garam Karlo,” “Rebel,” “Grown a Pair,” etc. If they can put up these signs, then I am sure they are already free and doing want they want to. The problems portrayed in front of us are different from the problems that women in Pakistan face. I am sure there is a good explanation behind signs like “Rebel” and “Grown a Pair,” but the way it is presented is too aggressive and immature.
Only one-fourth of women in Pakistan are employed, and their share of seats in offices are not enough. There is a large portion of men who think that women shouldn’t work. Women face violence regularly, and only half of the working women feel safe working alone at night. The most common problem that women face is sexual harassment. The office environment is not safe for women; they have to deal with harassment regularly.
Because of how men treat women in workplaces and education institutes, parents are forced to think about whether they should send their daughters to such places. The situation is even worse in rural areas if there is a rumor of harassment; parents don’t send their daughter to schools and colleges. When middle-class parents see educated women holding signs like “Divorced and happy,” it changes their perspective from positive to negative.
We are progressing towards a better future, but girl child is still considered as a burden in some parts of Pakistan. If educated women call themselves rebels, it will add to the list of problems that women in hidden parts of Pakistan are facing. Fighting a fist with fist not always the right solution, sometimes changing perspective with positive messages changes a lot.
Parents do send their daughters to schools and universities, but a great number of women don’t work. Some even working their way to attain MBBS, but end up as housewives. One of many reasons is that they are not encouraged to take the next step of working and supporting the family. Parents and husbands feel less motivated to send women to work. If women in big cities and big offices start addressing these issues with the right arguments, then we can change minds.
I am someone who believes that women and men are equal. We should have an equal share in everything, but if we do not address the issues properly, then it can worsen the situation. We have to send a message to parents that they should send their daughters to school. We have to send a message to husbands to stop domestic violence. Similarly, we have to educate people to stop harassing women by sending “Good Morning” messages to start a conversation, especially when least expected. Kashmala Tariq said the right thing, but the way it came out was wrong.