While we are talking big about creating a safe world for women, cases of harassment at workplace are still being reported. It all begins with the discrimination, which often ends with the ugly cases of sexual harassment.
Indian Constitution considers both men and women equal. They have the right to choose their profession and area of work or business activity. However, the reality is completely different. Women have to face discrimination at home as well as work place. Discrimination mostly includes difference in pay, elements of harassment and violence.
Sexual harassment is a hard reality that occurs at the workplace in metro cities as well as rural areas. Economic advancements have provided many job opportunities to women and they are breaking stereotypes by stepping out of their homes to work in the field of their choice.
This is a welcoming change which has transformed the lives of women and they feel more liberated and economically independent. Nevertheless, it has also exposed them to a harsher world of crimes such as discrimination and sexual violence.
Not any particular, but the cases are reported from every sector, be it healthcare, IT, agriculture, media, education, hospitality or anything else. Molestation and harassment cases reported on almost daily basis are a rude reminder to the female employees of our country that no matter how much they try, they have to face a situation like this. If this was not enough, victim shaming makes the life hell of these women. It is because of the fear associated, women are afraid of reporting the cases to their seniors or police. Consequently, the predators keep targeting their prey.
It is not just the women’s responsibility to ensure their safety while crossing the public spaces, but authorities, administrations and the so called elite citizens are equally responsible for creating a better space for women.
What does Indian law say?
India has passed an Act to punish the culprits and provide a dignified workplace to women. The legislative Act – The Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013 – is an endeavor to protect all women from harassment at workplace. It was passed by the Lok Sabha in September, 2012; and by Rajya Sabha in February, 2013. In April, 2013 it received the nod of the President of India and came into effect from December, 2013.
Despite this legal reform in place, women are afraid to report the cases. They try to handle the case on their own instead of lodging a case. However, this should not be the scene. A lot of work has to be done to ensure women move ahead and take an action against the culprit. This could be possible if everyone of use joins the movement and pledge not to shame the victim, but get the predators behind bars.
Proper system to prevent sexual harassment at workplace is required. Victims must be counselled and cared with sensitivity so that they can regain their self-esteem and handle the situation ably.
ICC – Internal Complaint Committee
Companies with more than 11 employees must have this committee in place to deal with such situations. At least half of the members of the committee should be women. It must have – one senior woman employee, two legal matter experts related to crime against women, and one member from an NGO.
In the endeavour to create a safe workplace for women, NGO Sofia Educational and Welfare Society helps constitutes ICC in companies. They encourage a culture that is socially viable for women – where there’s no tolerance for sexual harassment, and where they can work with complete dignity, respect, and receive equal pay as their male colleague.