Written by - Vanshika Pannu & Monisha Jain
Sexual harassment of women in the workplace is a ubiquitous issue in our society and throughout the world. The term refers to any unwelcoming sexual advances, request for sexual favours, or other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature that creates a hostile or uncomfortable work environment for the victim. Women in general are particularly vulnerable to sexual harassment in the workplace. Researches have shown that they are more likely than men to experience harassment.
Atrocities basically mean extremely cruel, violent, or shocking acts. It refers to a violent act that is directed at an individual based upon his or her biological sex or gender identity. atrocities against women include physical, verbal, emotional, and psychological abuse, threat, or coercion whether occurring in private or public life. It causes arbitrary deprivation of liberty. Violence against women is globally pervasive. It exists in every country, culture, caste, and age.
As per WORLD HEALTH ORGANISATION, 35% of women worldwide experienced either physical or sexual violence and every 1 in 3 women has experienced violence, Women and girls are primary victims of atrocities against them as they often have fewer rights or lack of appropriate means of protection.They are particularly suspectable to victimization and are exposed to rape and other forms of sexual violence.
The Indian constitution under articles (14),(15), and (21) provides equality and liberty for all citizens. But women are sexually harassed and they are sometimes deprived.
The main cause of sexual harassment is the critical imbalance of power between supervisors and subordinates. This relationship between supervisor and subordinate produces an imbalance of potentiality and thus makes differences. Our constitution has given equal rights to both men and women in all aspects of life whether it be work or any profession. It must be noted that harassment can be both mental and physical.The most problematic thing in the whole scenario is to collect proof, thus it is the victim's word.
It is also observed that even if the women are in the dominant positions they have been harassed many times. Atrocities at home can take a different forms with multiple power dynamics operating at the same from sexual abuse, sibling abuse, and emotional abuse by parents to domestic violence and dowry-related violence, intimate partner violence are all forms of violence at home normalised because the rigid concept of gender has become more stringent . Women experience intimate partner violence which includes physical aggression, and sexual coercion. Sexual harassment and sexual violence in public places both in urban and rural areas are coming every day for women and girls. It happens on streets, on public transportation, and at almost every public place which reduces freedom of movement for women. Reasons for sexual harassment are many, the basic reason against women lies in society's mindset. The structure of dominant and subordinate is common in our society. The male superiority mindset is the root cause of these acts. This superiority complex arises in society in different form of discriminatory practices leading to anxiety, depression, headaches, and sleeping and eating-related disorders .
Lack of education
Cultural and social norms
Lack of institutional grievance atrocities at home at the workplace at public
Sexual harassment in the workplace is not only a social issue also it is associated with various legal norms and regulations.
Under ‘federal law’ sexual harassment is prohibited under the title (vii) of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. According to this law discrimination on basis of employment is prohibited.
However, these rules and regulations are different in various parts of the world like [FEHA] Fair employment And Housing Act in California.
Quoting the landmark judgment of VISHAKHA VS STATE OF RAJASTHAN which deals with sexual harassment against women in the workplace. In this case, Banwari devi a social worker in a program to stop child marriage , tried to stop a child marriage in a Gujjar family. She did an exceptionally well job to stop this act but the family wanted to take revenge and in revenge Ramakant Gujjar along with five other men brutally raped Her, and continuous efforts in filing the case were in vain. The Supreme Court ruled that the fundamental rights under articles 14,19(1), and (21) of the constitution are that every profession, trade, or occupation should provide a safe working environment to the employees. After this case, the Supreme Court defined sexual harassment fully.
In private organizations, punishment and strict rules should be defined. In the year 2013 POSH ACT Prevention of Sexual Harassment Was passed which aimed to make more specific guidelines for women in the workplace.
Under this act, Internal Complaint Committees have to be set up to provide a better and safe working environment for women in the workplace, along with this in today's world 21st-century modern technology as a tool can be used efficiently to safeguard women's rights.
For this act to be implemented following provisions must be implemented like:
1. Formulation of ICC
2. A Woman must head the ICC panel
3. Assistance from employees
This act has played a major role in providing safe working conditions for women. Also, if an employee faces sexual harassment at the workplace a complaint can be registered at EEOC (Equal Opportunity Employment Commission).
A NATIONAL COMMISSION FOR WOMEN is being set to lodge complaints against women. Sexual harassment of women in the workplace is a deep root problem in our society.
If no action is taken against these acts directly it is going to affect the working conditions of the country.
At last following steps can be taken by the employees to create a safe environment for women. Providing education to people wherever required, taking appropriate steps by reporting if necessary, and encouraging organization members to speak up for the rights of women.