What is Sexual Harassment ?
As per the latest media reports, four out of five Indian Women are being sexually harassed in Public places. Women who are between the age group of 25 to 35 years are being sexually harassed, out of which 82 percent are full time employees and 68 percent are students.
When someone is sexually harassed in the workplace, it can undermine their sense of personal dignity. It can prevent them from earning a livelihood, doing their job effectively, etc., Sexual harassment will poison the environment for everyone else. If it can’t be prevented at the early stage, the workplace has the potential to escalate to violent behaviour.
Employers that do not take steps to prevent sexual harassment can face major costs in future which slowly leads to:
- Asking for sex in exchange for a benefit or favour.
- Repeatedly asking for dates for sex.
- Demanding hugs.
- Making unnecessary physical contact, including unwanted touching.
- Using rude or insulting language or making comments towards women
- Calling people sex-specific derogatory names
- Making abusive and filthy sex-related comments about a person’s physical characteristics
- Posting or sharing pornography, sexual pictures or cartoons, sexually
- Explicit graffiti, or other sexual images (including online)
- Making sexual jokes
Both women and men may experience sexual harassment in employment, but especially women are most effected to it because they often hold lower-paying, lower-authority and lower-status jobs compared to men. At the same time, even women in positions of Higher Authority/Position may also experience sexual harassment.
Whatever her position may be, portraying a female worker in a sexual way can diminish her status and image in the eyes of other employees.
Preventing sexual harassment:
Employers operating have a legal duty to take steps to prevent and respond immediately to stop sexual harassment. They must make sure they took all the preventive steps to poison-free environments that respect human rights. From a human rights perspective, it is not acceptable to ignore sexual harassment, whether or not someone has formally complained.
Employers can prevent many cases of sexual harassment by having a clear, comprehensive anti-sexual harassment policy in place. In cases of alleged sexual harassment, the policy will alert all parties to their rights, roles and responsibilities. Policies must clearly set out how the sexual harassment will be dealt with promptly and efficiently.
Everyone should know about the anti-sexual harassment policy and the steps in place for resolving complaints. This can be done by:
Giving policies to everyone as soon as they are introduced Making all employees, etc. aware of them by including the policies in orientation material Training people, including people in positions of responsibility, about the policies, and educating them on human rights issues.
An effective sexual harassment policy can limit harm and reduce liability. It also promotes the equity and diversity goals of organizations and institutions and makes good business sense. Employers should monitor their environments regularly to make sure they are free of sexually harassing behaviours. Taking steps to keep a poison-free environment will help make sure that sexual harassment does not take root, and does not have a chance to grow.
If you have been sexually harassed, ask for the FIR statement to be recorded in a language you understand! If for some reason that is not possible, ask for a translator and make sure that every detail is recorded. Abusing a woman with sexually coloured/ provocative remarks on social media is a crime under IPC Section 509, with a fine AND a jail time of 3 years.
Just because an allegation could not be proved, does not mean that it will be treated as a false/malicious complaint under the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace Act, 2013.
Making unwanted physical contact against a woman’s will is a crime under IPC Section 354 (A), and the man can face upto 3 years in jail.
Under the same section, it is illegal to show pornography to a woman against her will, demand sexual favours or imply sexual intentions. No more sick Snap chats, perverts.
Watching, capturing or sharing images of a woman engaging in a private act without her consent is voyeurism and is punishable under IPC Section 354 (C). The man can face jail from 1 to 3 years, if it’s his first offence, and from 3 to 7 years if it’s a repeat offence. Hear that voyeurs?
Singing vulgar songs directed at women in public spaces is considered as sexual harassment under IPC Section 294 and the offenders could be jailed upto 3 months.