21 January 2021
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The Supreme Court approved for hearing on Monday singer Meesha Shafi’s workplace harassment case against fellow entertainer Ali Zafar. Many on Twitter hailed the decision as an important step towards justice for harassment victims, and congratulated the singer and her legal team.

The verdict means that the court is now ready to debate whether Zafar’s alleged sexual harassment of Shafi counted as workplace harassment. The court has issued notices to Zafar and the Punjab government.

Shafi’s lawyer Nighat Dad was the first to take to Twitter to congratulate her.

Supreme Court of Pakistan grants leave in @itsmeeshashafi case! Congrats to SC team Khuwaja Ahmad Hosain & @noorejazch Granting leave to appeal means SC has accepted to hear the case on legal points whether Meesha falls under the jurisdiction of Sexual Harassment Act.
— Nighat Dad (@nighatdad) January 11, 2021

She added the verdict proves that Shafi’s case was “never heard on merits”.

This also means that Harassment complaint was never heard on merits. Hats off to Meesha, Leena, legal teams who have been standing tall in the face of smear campaigns for the last 2 years. More power to all survivors of harassment who are still invisible & fighting for change.
— Nighat Dad (@nighatdad) January 11, 2021

Several others congratulated the singer on being granted leave.

If Meesha Shafi—a public figure and a well-connected, influential upperclass woman — has been facing the nastiest vitriol in her battle against harassment, imagine how unfavourable it must be for a common woman. It’s almost inconceivable to begin such a fight.
— Ayesha. (@primafacieaisha) January 11, 2021

Activist Reema Omer said that Pakistani courts must provide protection to working women by “interpreting workplace harassment law more progressively”.

Courts can and must interpret workplace harassment law progressively to give protection to more working women
However, we must also recognise the law itself is problematic and needs amendment -substantive and procedural- to meet its stated objectives
Judgments alone not enough
— Reema Omer (@reema_omer) January 11, 2021

A user commented that SC’s decision is a victory for every woman who has been “harassed and assaulted” in this country.

A win for the survivors of assault and harassment. For those who never reported. For those who did but never got justice. For the self employed. For all the women in this wretched country https://t.co/s0fXtsCHjZ
— Khadija Khakwani (@ishouldstudy__) January 11, 2021

Earlier, the Lahore High Court and Punjab ombudsperson had rejected Shafi’s appeals on the grounds that the alleged harassment was not covered by the workplace harassment law. The SC judges ruled that the points raised in the case must be examined by the court.

Abdul Gh Lone

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