“We are paving the way,” says Meesha after LHC passes a landmark judgement around sexual harassment law

The repercussions of the Meesha Shafi-Ali Zafar controversy, that broke out last year, can be most clearly felt this year. First it was the Lux Style Awards fiasco where a number of nominations withdrew their names from the award show because they didn’t want to participate in being celebrated by a platform that honored an alleged sexual abuser. Then there was this whole thing that Jami did with his own LSA trophies. In short, the industry has clearly stopped being silent about the issue of harassment and everyone has, more or less, chosen a side in this issue and are sticking with it.

However, it is not just within the industry that the effects are being felt. Ever since this case has been taken to the court, it has had an affect on the very law of the country itself. And it is a very positive effect that should be celebrated by everyone who claims to stand by the victims of sexual harassment.

Some background on the workplace harassment law

The written law is a complicated thing. It is because of its complexities and technicalities that many valid cases do not get the chance to be proceeded and are dismissed at the start. The laws regarding sexual harassment are some of the most complicated because despite there being an act present in our constitution that deals with the issues of workplace harassment, they are not clearly explained. It was due to this technicality that Meesha Shafi’s first case against Ali Zafar was dismissed by the court.

In a landmark decision taken by Justice Jawad Hassan of the Lahore High Court, positive developments happened with the workplace sexual harassment law. Nighat Dad, the lawyer representing Meesha Shafi in this case, lauded the decision that further explains the technicalities of the law and by extension provides more safety to the victims of workplace sexual harassment and ensures a safer working environment for everyone.

“Lahore High Court’s Justice Jawad Hasan passed a landmark decision around sexual harassment law. It doesn’t only elucidate the “employer-employee” relationship under the Act but further extends protection to workers employed in any capacity to ensure constitutional right of equality. This important decision is a victory for working women who face sexual harassment at the workplace and other forms of gender-based discrimination on a daily basis. Stressing more than ever, on the need for inclusive & safe working spaces for all.”

Meesha setting one precedent after another

Another precedent set by the case is the supreme court’s order of recording the witness statements, provided by Ali Zafar, separately and then cross-examining them in one-go. This is the first time a decision like this has taken place. The appeal was first rejected by the High Court but on the second hearing by Supreme Court, Meesha Shafi was granted the plea of cross examining the witnesses in one-go. This ensures swift procedures in a case that could very well be impacted by the delayed hearings.

This is the first time such a high-profile case of this nature has gone to court. And it is truly amazing to see that it is not for nothing. Despite the ugly side of the issue where a lot of mud-slinging has happened on social media, the real victory here is that this case is setting precedents for any such future cases. Not only from the media industry, but the country as a whole. And all because of Meesha Shafi not backing down from her case. This is truly a victory for her, and all the people who supported her, as this case is really changing how the law works in the country. Hopefully, this case will be remembered for a long time for being the reason the sexual allegations not being taken lightly and giving the culprits proof that law is on the side of the victims.

 

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