Here is why the changes made to the Protection against Harassment of Women at the Workplace Act are monumental

Mahnoor Jalal

Mahnoor Jalal


Last week was a joyous occasion for all women when it was announced that there would be amendments made to the Protection against Harassment of Women at the Workplace Act, which will help more survivors of harassment and abuse find courage to come out and take action against their harassers.

What are these changes and how will they make an impact in helping more survivors expose abusive workplaces? Digital rights activist and lawyer Nighat Dad shared all of this on her twitter account by pointing out what changes were made to broaden the definition of harassment and how it will help more women in the future.

  1. The definition of employee has been broadened to include occupations like freelancers, performers, artists, entertainers, domestic workers etc. This means more women who don’t work at traditional office places have the right to seek legal justice against their harassers.

2. There has also been included provisions for ex-employees, women who have left their workplace or have been removed can also now file cases of harassment against their workplace

3. Definition of a workplace has also been broadened to include to prove that harassment doesn’t only occur in office places. Other venues mentioned in the document include households, concerts, gymnasiums, public events etc.


4. The definition of harassment has been broadened from being previously limited to “unwelcome sexual advances” and now also highlights other actions like gestures or expressions that may hinder the worker’s work performance or create a hostile environment


5. One of the most important changes made to this act is now to include protection for sportswomen who wish to take legal action against their harassers. Nighat Dad cited the case of 17 year old cricketer Haleema Rafiq who had come forward with accusations of harassment against members of the Multan Cricket Club, but did not receive any support from the law or the police. She had committed suicide soon afterwards.


Other women on Twitter, especially lawyers, lauded these changes as a breakthrough for many women in Pakistan which will soon empower them to seek action against abusive workplaces.