Usman Awan is the founder of Step Forward Pakistan and a social activist who aims to fight for positive cultural, moral and religious values of Pakistan. According to Usman, he has observed many harassment issues in public work places, educational institutes as well as public transports, which is his reason to fight against this immoral crime. In 80% of the harassment incidents the oppressor takes advantage of women’s helplessness, vulnerability and the fact that they don’t raise their voices. Girls studying in universities and colleges refrain from communicating such issues to their parents for the fear of their educational careers being jeopardized. Many harassment victims are hushed down just because they are looked down upon in the society and no legal reports are filed. Most women are unaware of the fact that the law of Pakistan gives them full protection against sexual harassment so it has become very crucial that efforts should be made to spread this awareness so that every single female gets to know what harassment really is and how to handle such issues by self protection and by the means of law enforcement.
Usman has personally put in efforts to help young girls facing these issues as a social activist and resolved many of them in his own ways. She was an undergraduate student going through similar difficulties with her male teacher who did not let a chance to make her uncomfortable, slip by; saying stuff to make her uneasy, asking her to sit in the front row and embarrassing her in front of other students by giving her undue attention. She was scared to confront him or report his activities due to the fear of being highlighted nor did she tell her parents. Usman has a vast social circle through which she reached out to him. He explained to her that either she could officially report the teacher and legally pursue him if need be. To this, she disagreed blatantly because she did not want her family to be involved in the matter. Nor did she have the courage to go up to him and confront him or report the man to the authorities. He decided to opt for another way to help her out by writing an anonymous formal looking letter to the teacher, informing him about sexual harassment, how big a crime it is and its legal consequences. The reason for the letter to be anonymous was that once the accused becomes aware of the pursuer he starts finding out ways to tackle him. So he was curious as well as conscious about his actions which must have shaken his senses to a level , forcing him to evaluate himself at length. The next time he entered the class, he did not have the guts to make eye contact with her, let alone harass her in the slightest way. This was an effort by Usman at a personal level where no legal authorities were involved and the matter was resolved.
This is another story of a girl studying in a private college. Her professor sent her inappropriate text messages every now and then. She was very worried about the situation and had no clue as to how to respond to it. She evidently wanted no legal intervention and was afraid to take up the issue to her family. Usman procured the screenshots from her and approached the teacher directly introducing himself as a social activist. He confronted the man on her behalf and told him to reflect upon the consequences if the screenshots got viral or reached the authorities somehow. What impact would it have on his own family? How would he be able to face other students and the faculty? What if the matter got exposed in the media? No one wants bad publicity and the stakes were high against him. He personally went up to the lady and excused himself .
In another university, a different girl was facing similar issues. Her teacher got hold of her mobile number somehow and made unethical advances. His constant glare was unbearable for her every single day. She was extremely upset over the matter and it was killing her inside as she could not voice it out loud to anybody. On exploring her social circle she got to know about Usman and reached out to him, who explained to her that she should not keep her lips sealed about the matter and let him mess with her mind and life. Keeping silent is perceived as submission. He inculcated in her, the strength to stand up to him. After a one to one discussion with her teacher, in which she told him that his actions fall under harassment and if he does not put an end to it she would legally pursue him. She got him to apologize to him and he did not dare to bother her again .
If all the women of this country start acknowledging their rights and decide to stand up against sexual harassment, more than 80 percent issues would be resolved or might not even take place. Proactive use of constitutional laws is necessary to change the society and courts should give severe punishments to those who are involved in sexual harassment as it’s the need of time to set some examples in the society to lessen the number of harassment cases. It will not only build the trust of women on our legislature system but also impact the society deeply. . The vision is to bring this into common knowledge so that the number of sufferers is decreased. The culprits are supposed to be publicly admonished. It will increase women empowerment and not the number of reprieve resignations. The voice of one victim saves many others from becoming a victim. Seeing injustice and remaining silent makes you an alliance of the culprit. There is a need to encourage this cause at every level to free Pakistani women from this menace.