Sexual Harrasement of Women at Workplace

The Supreme Court directive of 1997 clearly and unambiguously provides an answer to the question ‘What is sexual harassment? ‘. As defined in the Supreme Court guidelines (Vishakha vs. State of Rajasthan, August 1997), sexual harassment includes such unwelcome sexually determined behavior as: * Physical contact * A demand or request for sexual favors * Sexually colored remarks * Showing pornography Any other unwelcome physical, verbal or non-verbal conduct of a sexual nature, for example, leering, telling dirty jokes, making sexual remarks about a person’s body, etc The Supreme Court directive provided the legitimate space for the hidden truth about SHW to surface; earlier one only heard about victim-blaming, witch-hunting and blackmailing. Now women are fighting back tooth and nail. The electronic and print media have become extremely responsive to the issue of SHW. Myths and facts about sexual harassment

Myth 1: Women enjoy eve-teasing/sexual harassment. Fact: Eve-teasing/sexual harassment is humiliating, intimidating, painful and frightening. Myth 2: Eve-teasing is harmless flirtation. Women who object have no sense of humor. Fact: Behavior that is unwelcome cannot be considered harmless or funny. Sexual harassment is defined by its impact on the woman rather than the intent of the perpetrator. Myth 3: Women ask for SHW. Only women who are provocatively dressed are sexually harassed.

Fact: This is the classic way of shifting blame from the harasser to the victim. Women have the right to act, dress and move around freely without the threat of attack or harassment. The most popular slogan of the women’s rights movement of the past three decades has been| However we dress, wherever we go ‘Yes’ means ‘Yes’ and ‘No’ means ‘No’. Myth 4: Women who say ‘no’ actually mean ‘yes’. Fact: This is a common myth used by men to justify sexual aggression and one-sided sexual advances.

Myth 5: Women keep quiet. That means they like it. Fact: Women keep quiet to avoid the stigma attached and retaliation from the harasser. Women are afraid that they will be accused of provoking it, of being victimized, of being called liars and made the subject of gossip. Myth 6: If women go to places where they are not welcome, they should expect sexual harassment. Fact: Discriminatory behavior and abuse is unlawful. Women have equal access to all work facilities. A safe workplace is a woman’s legal right.

Prevention of Sexual Harassment Prevention is the best strategy for eliminating sexual harassment in the workplace. Many governments have followed the U. S. example of establishing a government agency to monitor employers’ policies and responses to sexual harassment and to entertain sexual harassment complaints. In legal regimes, which recognize sexual harassment as a form of sex discrimination, monitoring agencies take the form of equal opportunity commissions, agencies or ombudsmen.

In addition, many legal systems encourage employers to take steps to prevent sexual harassment from occurring. These steps include communicating to employees that sexual harassment will not be condoned, establishing an effective complaint or grievance process and taking immediate action to investigate complaints made by employees. There are also actions that employees may take to try and put an end to the harassing behavior or to preserve their ability to seek legal action against the harasser or the employer.

Finally, trade unions and the media can play a powerful role in preventing sexual harassment through advocacy on behalf of employee victims, the training of managers, and the encouragement of changes in views of sexually harassing conduct and the reporting of such conduct. Case study Shivaji Science teacher alleges sexual harassment by head of department TNN | Jul 3, 2013, 05. 29 AM IST NAGPUR: One of city’s topmost colleges that have a rich tradition of producing meritorious students every year in state board HSC examinations has been rocked by allegation of sexual harassment.

Three women lecturers from the Congress Nagar-based Shivaji Science College have knocked judiciary’s doors alleging sexual harassment and victimization at workplace by head of geology department KC Shah and principal Devendra Burghate. A division bench of justices Anoop Mohta and ZA Haq issued notices to Nagpur University registrar, joint director of higher education in Nagpur, president of Shivaji Education Society, besides Burghate and Shah, asking them to file reply before July 10. The court also directed to maintain ‘status-quo’ on transfer orders of petitioners issued by the secretary of Shivaji Education Society.

Bhanudas Kulkarni and Tushar Mandlekar were the counsels for the petitioners. They informed the judges that Shah repeatedly humiliated assistant professor in Geology Jaya Kodate by his highly indecent and objectionable behavior. After her numerous complaints to the principal, a special investigation panel were constituted, that found him guilty. Moreover, the college’s ‘Women’s Cell’, Local Management Committee (LMC) and Women’s Grievance Cell also indicted him while recommending departmental action.

However, the college management transferred the complainant instead of punishing the HoD. Other petitioners- Vandana Meshram and Kalpana Pawar-, who acted as panel members that indicted Shah, were allegedly threatened by the principal, who also deprived them of their legitimate rights of being appointed as heads of their respective departments. Fed up with continuous harassment, all three lodged a complaint on June 18 and 24 with Dhantoli police station while seeking protection.

Kulkarni and Mandlekar contended the petitioners were subjected to ‘sexual and mental harassment’ in the college, and instead of taking action against Shah, the management arbitrarily transferred them on June 25 in utmost vindictive and revengeful manner, only to teach them a lesson. Even the transfer orders were informed through SMS as petitioners had dared to raise voice against illegal activities of principal and HoD. Citing the Supreme Court’s directions in famous ‘Vishakha versus State of Rajasthan’ case, they argued that college management had failed to give safe, secured and protected work environment to women.

The petitioners prayed for directives to NU administration to constitute ‘internal committees’ to deal with cases of sexual harassment of women at workplace and setting aside their transfer orders. Laws & Regulations * Indian Penal Code (IPC) Section 354 * Vishaka Guidelines * Protection of Women against Sexual Harassment at Workplace Bill, 2010 * Criminal Law (Amendment) Act, 2013

Bibliography * timesofindia. indiatimes. com › Topics? * en. wikipedia. org/wiki/Sexual_harassment * ? http://infochangeindia. org/women/analysis/a-brief-history-of-the-battle-against-sexual-harassment-at-the-workplace. html

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