After 2-Year Legal Battle, Samaa FM Staffer Wins Sexual Harassment Case Against Colleagues
“I worked at a hostile workplace for five years. I could not afford to quit the job. However, I kept complaining to my boss who was ironically guilty of catcalling himself”, says Tehreem Muneeba, a Radio broadcaster based in Islamabad.
“I kept fighting against the ‘hostile workplace’ for two long years and today, the court has finally declared that the organisation was indeed a hostile space for women”, says Tehreem, with a shine in her eyes that reflects the victory.
The Radio broadcaster was harassed while at work in a studio at Samaa FM in 2018. She had to quit her job after being subjected to harassment.
She filed a case against the studio staffers for harassing and intimidating her in 2018 and following almost two years of prosecution, the court decided in her favor on May 22 and imposed a fine of Rs100,000 each on seven staff members.
Despite her regular complaints, Chief Operating Officer (COO) Fahd Haroon never paid heed and when another sexual advance was made by the accused on 21.08.2018, instead of ordering a transparent inquiry, Fahad preferred to protect the harassers. “He gave a false testimony negating my allegations and sided with the seven SAMAA FM officials who had hurt me and because of whom I suffered a lot”, she recalls.
Fahd Haroon is now working as PM Imran Khan’s focal person on information analytics since March 2020 and also happens to be a member of the Pakistan Broadcasting Board (PBC).
Talking about her plight that continued for two years, she says, “This incident destroyed my career and I am jobless since September 2018.”
She is happy that after these two hard years of legal, mental and financial struggle, justice is finally served and the court has fined Rs100,000 each to all seven staffers who had subjected her to harassment.
The Omudsperson not only penalized the accused persons under section 4 (4) (ii)(e) of Protection against Harassment of Women at Workplace the Act, 2010 but also directed them to pay fine of Rs100,000 each as compensation to the complainant within 30 days of passing of this order through the office of this forum without fail.
After she made the allegations of sexual harassment, the Samaa management filed a defemation suit worth Rs 500 million against her. She wonders what will become of it now that her position has been vindicated.
“In a society, where men at workplaces are usually making it difficult for women to earn their livelihood, the judicial system was my last option and it didn’t let me die of embarrassment,” she added.
I would like to say this to all my female colleagues in the field, be alert and whenever such an incident of harassment occurs do not be afraid, stand up and fight. Do not quit. Search for legal options and special platforms for harassment of women at workplace like Ombudsperson.
The women who stand against fellow women fearing for their jobs should know that this fear only encourages future harassers, she said.
Muneeba also claimed that the Samaa FM management had deleted the CCTV footage which was the only evidence of what happened in the FM studio rather than taking action.