If the streets of the country are unsafe for women, the situation in the workplace is not encouraging either.
As women (and often, men too) living in India, we have all fallen prey to sexual harassment in one form or another. Be it the cat calls on the road, or molestation in a crowded bus, we’ve all been there, faced that. But how many of us know that the Indian penal code has laws to protect us from each of these?
The Indian National Bar Association conducted a survey on sexual harassment at workplace between April and October 2016. Around 6,047 participants, both male and female, and 45 victims responded to their questionnaire. Most of the respondents were from sectors like IT, media, education, legal, medical and agriculture. The respondent victims were mainly from Delhi, Mumbai, Bengaluru, Kolkata, Hyderabad, Lucknow and other areas. Around 38 percent of the respondents said they faced sexual harassment in the workplace.
The survey revealed that most of the women victims dealt with it on their own instead of lodging a formal complaint with the management. Fear, embarrassment, lack of faith in the redressal mechanism, unawareness were some of the reasons cited for not reporting to the management. Around 69 percent of the victims did not complain to the management fearing repercussions or retaliation. The survey also revealed that the nature of the sexual harassment involved inappropriate comments, touching and physical harassment. What’s shocking was around 65 percent of the respondents’ answer was no when asked did the company follow the process prescribed under the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013.
In fact, 66.7 percent of the victims felt that the internal committees did not deal with the complaint fairly. The survey also stated that 50 percent of the victims left the organisation after the case was closed. Around 42.2 percent of the victims who reported sexual harassment said that they were not treated fairly by their peers and colleagues during the period of inquiry.
Sexual Harassment Laws In India That All Women Should Know In India.
- Singing lewd songs directed at women in public spaces is considered sexual harassment under IPC section 294. The offender could be jailed up to 3 months or be fined or both.
- Demanding sexual favours despite indication of disinterest is a crime under IPC section 354(A). The accused Canada Face change time ranging from 1 to 3 years or fine or both.
- Making unwanted physical contact against a woman’s will is a crime under IPC section 354(A). The man can face jail term which may extend of 3 years.
- 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 faces jail term ranging from 1 to 3 years in addition to fine. If the man convicted the second time, then he may get the improvement ranging from 3 to 7 years along with fine.
- Following someone with or without their knowledge is talking and is an act of sexual harassment. The man can face change turn printing 3 to 5 years along with fine as per IPC section 354(D).
- Morphing pictures of a woman and sharing them with an intent to Harsh and defame is a crime as per IPC p C section 499. The punishment may include jurn time up to 2 years or fined or both.
- If a woman’s clear refusal to someone’s sexual advanced is met by threads to harm her physical or reputation and property, is a crime under IPC section 503. The man can edit face in placement of 2 years or fine or both.
- Making Sexual coloured remarks against a woman in a public space is a crime under IPC section 509. The man can either face jail time of 3 years and fine.
- In an event that you are faced with an act of sexual harassment, you have the right to file an FIR (First Information Report) preferably with local police station.
- A senior colleague demanding sexual favours in exchange for work benefits or promotion or salary hike is an act of sexual harassment as per sexual harassment of women at workplace act, 2013.
- Any workplace with more than 10 employees should have an internal complaints committee constituted as per the sexual harassment of women at workplace act, 2013.
- Posting any obscene or defamatory material on public online platform intending to harass a woman is a crime under section 67 of the IT Act. The accused can face change time of 2 years coupled with a fine.
- If a woman makes a complaint about an act of an act sexual harassment, the enquiry has to be completed within 90 days according to the sexual harassment of women at workplace act, 2013.
- You are domestic help is also covered by sexual harassment of women at workplace act, 2013. Your home is her workplace.
- If an act of sexual harassment happens inside the transportation facility provided by your workplace, you have right to complain under sexual harassment of women at workplace act, 2013.
- Abusing a woman with sexually coloured remarks on social media is crime under IPC section 509. The man my face jail time of 3 years and fine.
- According to the sexual harassment of women at workplace Act, 2013, the committee meeting action against the complainant in case of malicious complaints or false evidence. However, simply not being able to prove an allegation will not mean that it is a false/ malicious complaint.
By – R. Prerna, Student Reporter, INBA