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Harassment and Ways to Deal with it

In recent years, we have seen an unfortunate trend of cases of gender-based harassment and violence. The Women’s Rights and Family Conflict Domain of Project Ujaala has launched an awareness campaign to educate about harassment and ways to deal with it. The following essay details the legal penalties for different types of harassment and also, some helplines that may be useful in one’s time of need.


Gender-based harassment is unwelcome conduct based on an individual’s actual or perceived sex. It includes slurs, taunts, stereotypes, or name-calling as well as gender-motivated physical threats, attacks, or other hateful conducts.

Types of Harassment:

1- Workplace Harassment
2- Street Harassment
3- Cyber-Harassment

1- Workplace Harassment:

The Protection Against Harassment of Women in the Workplace Act,2010 defines workplace harassment as:

“Any unwelcome sexual advance, request for sexual favors or other verbal or written communication or physical conduct of a sexual nature or sexually demeaning attitudes, causing interference with work performance or creating an intimidating, hostile or offensive work environment, or the attempt to punish the complainant for refusal to comply to such a request or is made a condition for employment.”


Shall be punished with imprisonment which may extend to three years or with a fine up to five hundred thousand rupees or with both.

2- Street Harassment:

The Protection Against Harassment of Women in the Workplace act, 2010 also covers harassment in public places as:

“Such behavior might occur in a public place, including, but not limited to, markets, public transport, streets or parks, or it might occur in private places including, but not limited to workplaces, private gatherings, or homes.”


Shall be punished with imprisonment which may extend to three years or with a fine up to five hundred thousand rupees or with both.

3- Cyber-Harassment:

Cyber-Harassment is a term used to describe the use of digital technologies to harass, control, or manipulate a target.


The Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act,2016 has set the following punishments for the following crimes:

• Criminal defamation:
“Whoever intentionally and publicly exhibits or displays or transmits any information through any information system, which he knows to be false, and intimidates or harms the reputation or privacy of a natural person, shall be punished with
imprisonment for a term which may extend to three years or with fine which may extend to one million rupees or with both.”

• Cyberstalking:
“Whoever commits this office is liable for imprisonment up to three years or fine up to one million rupees or both and in case of minors, imprisonment will be up to five years and fine up to ten million rupees or both.”

Helplines and Apps:

Here are some helplines and apps established by the public and private sectors that work to combat harassment and gender-based violence:

• Gender Protection Unit:
The Gender Protection unit inaugurated by the Islamabad Police handles complaints of gender-based violence. It has been built with the purpose of providing a sense of security to women and children. This unit is entirely managed by female personnel,
and handles complaints of harassment, child abuse, domestic violence, and more.
Helpline: 8090

• Punjab Commission on the Status of Women:
This helpline consists of all-women call agents, legal advisors, social counselors, supervisors, and staff to address complaints of gender discrimination, workplace harassment, property rights, skill development, and various other legal and socioeconomic issues.
Helpline: 1043

• Digital Rights Foundation:
The Digital Rights Foundation is an NGO working to support human rights, democratic processes, and digital governance. Their helpline provides a free, safe, and confidential service to victims of cyber-harassment and violence. They provide
legal advice, digital security, and psychological counseling in a private and gender-sensitive environment.
Helpline: 0800-39393 (Monday-Friday 9:00AM-5:00PM)

• Madadgaar National Helpline:
The official website of the organization describes the helpline as:

“Toll-free helpline number will be accessible 24/7 for women experiencing violence and people who want to report GBV in their vicinity. Operators guide the survivors in need of immediate help towards means of prevention, provide information on inhouse and referral services available for them, and encourage them to visit Madadgaar to seek comprehensive support”

Helpline: 1098

• Punjab Police- Women Safety App:
Launched by the Punjab Police, this app allows you to immediately alert the police and other emergency authorities, it is integrated with helpline numbers (such as Motorway Police, Punjab Highway Patrol, and others) and the user will get a fast and effective response at their precise location. It also allows you to live-chat with concerned personnel in the case of an emergency. Harassment is both a legal and religious crime. Through this article, we hope to encourage women to speak up against injustices that they face and make them aware that there are support systems in place, both in the private and public sectors. These systems strive hard to make Pakistan a safe place and ensure that justice is served in all cases.

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