Gender

Gender Beat: Workplace Sexual Harassment Rises; Transgenders to Be Counted in Pakistan Census

A round-up of what’s happening in the worlds of gender and sexuality.

 REUTERS/Mansi Thapliyal

Representational image. Credit: Reuters/Mansi Thapliyal

Nearly 40% women say they faced sexual harassment at workplace: survey 

A survey conducted by the Indian National Bar Association at BPOs, IT sector offices, and at several educational institutes, hospitals and legal firms across the country, found that 38% of women had faced sexual harassment at the workplace.

According to The Indian Express, nearly two-thirds of those surveyed claimed the absence of systems mandated by the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013 at their work places was one of the main obstacles in registering a complaint when they experienced sexual harassment.

According to Firstpost, the survey also revealed that most of the women victims of workplace sexual harassment dealt with it on their own instead of lodging a formal complaint with the management. Fear, embarrassment, lack of faith in the redressal mechanism and lack of awareness were some of the other factors.

Around 42.2% of the victims who reported sexual harassment said that they were not treated fairly by their peers and colleagues during the period of inquiry, while 50% victims left their workplace post the closure of the cases.

The survey included participation from 6,047 people, both male and female.

Zameer Nathani, the honorary national secretary of the organisation told The Indian Express,  “While conducting the survey, we found that the sexual harassment cases are still on a high in the country and the most shocking is the unawareness about the Sexual Harassment of women at workplace (prevention, prohibition and redressed) Act 2013.”

In UK, women should make up at least 45% of MPs by law, says equalities committee

The Women and Equalities Committee has concluded that political parties in the UK that fail to take steps to ensure that at least 45% of all representatives in parliament are women must be forced by law to do so.

According to The Guardian, Maria Miller, the committee chair and former Conservative culture secretary and minister for women, said that the country had dropped to “shockingly low” 48 in the world league table for female representation from 25 in 1999. This is behind other European countries such as the Netherlands, Spain and Italy and non-European countries including Rwanda, Angola and Mozambique.

“We are concerned that parliament is failing to be a world leader on women’s representation,” the report stated. “The under-representation of women MPs does not only represent a serious democratic deficit; it also means that the UK is missing out on the benefits of having gender balance in its highest decision-making body.”

The group, according to The Independent, urged Prime Minister Theresa May to set a domestic target – of 45% – for the proportion of female MPs actually elected to the local government by 2030.

Transgender population to be a part of national census in Pakistan

For the first time in Pakistan, the country’s transgender community will be included in the national population census when it surveys its population in March, Dawn reported.

According to a Reuters report, the order for the same issued by the Lahore high court resulted from a petition filed by transgender Waqar Ali in November.

Supporters of civil rights group for transgender people, the Gender Interactive Alliance, dance and chant slogans as they pose with a national flag ahead of the Independence Day in Karachi, Pakistan. Credit:Reuters/Akhtar Soomro

Supporters of civil rights group for transgender people, the Gender Interactive Alliance, dance and chant slogans as they pose with a national flag ahead of the Independence Day in Karachi, Pakistan. Credit: Reuters/Akhtar Soomro

In the petition, Ali argued that the country’s transgender community had been marginalised and in order to recognise their fundamental rights, its members should be included in the sixth national census.

“We are glad that we will be counted as will be other people,” transgender rights worker Almas Bobby told the Thomson Reuters Foundation. “Hope we get equal citizenship and equal status.”

Although the official figures on the number of transgenders living in the country are not available, according to advocacy group Trans Action, there are at least 500,000 in the country with a population of 190 million.

Pakistan’s sixth population census, according to Dawn, will begin on March 15, 2017.

Texas unveils controversial ‘bathroom bill’ 

Texas Republicans are pushing a new bill that, if enacted, would require public bathrooms to be reserved for people whose “biological sex” matches the gender referenced in the pictogram on the loo door.

Texas state Republican Senator Dan Patrick. Credit: Mike Stone/Reuters

Texas state Republican Senator Dan Patrick. Credit: Mike Stone/Reuters

According to Reuters, the move by the state Republican state senator comes despite warnings that the measure would hurt the US state’s economy on account of being discriminatory, and according to a study, could result in economic losses ranging from $964 million-$8.5 billion.

Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick, however, argued that the measure – the Texas Privacy Act – was meant to protect the privacy and safety of Texans.

According to the Economist, the state is not alone in its move to emulate North Carolina’s controversial House Bill 2. Seven other US states – including Virginia, Minnesota and Alabama – also have similar legislations pending.

Critics of the laws, writes Jon Herskovitz of the Thomson Reuters Foundation, say that they are designed to infringe on the civil rights of the members of the LGBT community

 

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If you have any comments or suggestions on what could be carried in this column, write to me at amanat@thewire.in.