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"Just a Time-Pass": Acknowledgement/Denial (?) of Sexual Harassment in Young Women's Discourse

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Using the feminist techniques of unstructured interviews and self-participatory approach, I analyze the constructions of sexuality and sexual harassment in the discourses of women and men entering higher education, and the wider Pakistani society. The content, themes and discursive linguistic choices from the interview narratives of 16 young women who have experienced sexual harassment in educational institutions, workplace and streets have been analyzed. The data helps to illustrate that sexual harassment is a mechanism of social control, deeply linked to the patriarchy and power structures of Pakistani society. It is neither researched nor reported in public discourses hence it is perpetuated and reinforced by both men and women. The analysis shows that women's unawareness of certain forms of harassment, their silence and dismissal of it as "just a time-pass" (an idiom in Pakistani English which is equivalent to "just a pastime" in standard English) constructing it as a non-violent behavior obliquely reinforce it.


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