**ICYMI – The most tweet-worthy stories in #Gender in #Pakistan this week:
Source: Propakistani.pk Website & Dawn Website
Uber in Pakistan features in both the #gender and the #tech category this week, as Dawn/Reuters covers Uber Pakistan’s efforts to allay fears about conduct of it’s workforce with upfront sexual harassment training. This follows the company being banned in Delhi after a driver was convicted of raping a passenger back in 2014.
What I found infinitely more interesting than the news story itself were the comments below. The screen shots below captures exactly how divided us Pakistanis are when it comes to the rights of women in the public space. One commentator sincerely recommends women be accompanied by ‘kids or other relatives’ while using the app-based taxi service.
Another takes it upon themselves to reduce it down for all us simple folk. Stop getting into cars alone, Wimmin! Where’s your common sense?!
Focusing in on the faulty editing, notice the title of the article : Uber teaches Pakistani Drivers how not to sexually harass women? So, are there preferred practices for such vile behaviour? A less loaded title could have been ‘ Uber launches mandatory sexual harassment prevention training for Drivers’. I was glad to see that another reader had already caught the lazy editing and proceeded to comment on it (captured below).
Perhaps one of the MOST exciting tickers I have read – Punjab passes the Punjab Protection of Women against Violence Bill – amidst massive uproar and opposition across the country. This news has reignited the debate on what constitutes mistreatment of women and whether these actions should be punishable by law.
“…Punjab Protection of Women Against Violence Bill redefines “violence” to include “any offence committed against a woman including abetment of an offence, domestic violence, emotional, psychological and verbal abuse, economic abuse, stalking or a cyber crime”.
(excerpt from Dawn’s Pakistan’s historic women’s rights bill praised by activists)
Debates on t.v. reached a fever pitch as some male guests on news shows tried to defend the minority view that this bill is ‘un-Islamic’ or flawed in some grand way that harms society as it stands. Thankfully, those opinions were quickly shot down by most anchors and co-guests! Even though the lame ‘what if something happened to your daughter/sister/mother/wife’ line was invoked once or twice during the discussions, overall the sentiment was that this bill is just a stepping block towards securing swift justice for women in abusive situations.
Some rightly note that there are many invisible, cultural hurdles before women in Punjab can actively break free from cyclical abuse. However, this law’s passing is being celebrated for it’s timeliness in addressing the increase in cyber-harassment and cybercrime targeted at women on the web.
“…The law not only caters to addressing psychological and emotional harm to women, but also includes stalking and cybercrime as punishable offences. The reason why this is important is because there is a tremendous momentum to silence women online — not just their sexuality but their very presence on social media as well as in terms of their freedom to have an email. For women, the Internet is not just about access, it is about escape. It is the gateway through which they learn skills and rights — all of which lead to empowerment and a shift away from all pervasive abuse.”
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