Archive for January 18th, 2011

On Monday, Jezebel (via @mehreenkasana) published a gallery entitled, “The Creepy Men of Pakistan’s Sexual Harassment Calendar.” The post, based on a calendar launched by the Alliance Against Sexual Harassment (AASHA) portrays various caricatures of perverted men who harass and intimidate women on a regular basis. The characters, noted Jezebel, “cross cultural boundaries.” Agreed.

According to the AASHA website, the organization:

…started developing these cartoons in 2007 as a strategy to deal with the issue of sexual harassment; to shift the focus from the victim to the behavior of the harasser. We have identified 36 characters so far, which have come out on desk calendars of 2008, 2009 and 2010. These cartoons have been very popular, so, for the 2011 calendar, we have decided to have you vote for your 12 favorite cartoons out of these 36.

Pretty innovative (and democratic) if you ask me. So here are some of the winners in the 2011 calendar. Drumroll please…

Ustad Lucha. Wagon drivers. Public transport conductors. Men who think stick shifts are eternal double entendres. “Changing gears,” just FYI, is not code for touching women in sleazy and inappropriate ways.

Ghuran Chatto. Very common character. Let’s just say they don’t quite look at your eyes. Even if you wear twenty layers of clothes you still walk away feeling completely violated. Gross.

Namurad mobaloil. Oh my gosh. LADIES. I recently re-learned this lesson the very hard way. Never. Pick. Up. A. Number. You. Don’t. Know. Just don’t do it. Because in all likelihood it is a Namurad-bloody-pervy-Mobaloil, wanting “frandship” with you. If your voice sounds remotely feminine (or maybe not even that), they will incessantly call you, thinking their persistence will somehow wear you down instead of causing you to want to claw your eyes out. If you decide to confront said pervs, take some well-seasoned advice from the fabulous Kasana, “How to Get Rid of Prank Callers.” Piss off pervs.

According to the Express Tribune, AASHA founding member Dr. Fauzia Saeed said at the launch of the 2011 calendar,

The current government has shown commitment and support by passing legislation against sexual harassment, making it a punishable offense for the first time in the history of Pakistan. This is a milestone in our social history which will not only legitimize access of women to public and work spaces but will be a turning point in changing people’s mindset about the relationship between men and women.

So first, good on AASHA for the intent behind this initiative – to not only place the emphasis on the perpetrator of harassment, but to also vilify said characters through a digestible and simple format; i.e., cartoons. However, while the government did pass the Protection Against Harassment of Women at Workplace Bill last February, such top-down legislation is only the first step in truly implementing bottom-up change. Just last week, Express reported that only three hospitals in Pakistan have even adopted “the code of conduct prepared by the National Implementation Watch Committee (NIWC) to prevent sexual harassment at workplace,” a step-by-step document on how to comply with the Harassment Bill.

But again, adopting a code of conduct is still different from implementing it. Harassment, to this day, (and not just in Pakistan), is often not seen as a serious offense. In fact, it’s practically bloody acceptable. Legislation that attempts to institute the contrary will only be effective if sexual harassers and perpetrators of gender-based violence are held accountable for their actions. We need to stop blaming the victims. We need to emphasize that this behavior is not okay. This can begin with serious and strategic sexual harassment trainings of employees (and police officers), where there are real repercussions (as opposed to empty threats) for those who fail to comply with the adopted code of conduct. Incentives need to be created to pressure organizations and companies to adopt said rules, and ensure their implementation. Ultimately, there needs to be a perception change. And while this will not happen overnight, a cohesive strategy must be developed in order to push this in the right direction.


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