Sexual Harassment at workplace is one of the rapidly rising crimes globally. Unwanted or unwelcome gestures, touch, verbal or physical harassment of a sexual nature or bullying amounts to Sexual Harassment. Every other day instance of sexual harassment pops up. But Media played a substantial role in bringing the issues of sexual harassment and exposing those people who are in power. Women are sexually harassed by their employers or colleagues. Quid Pro Quo Sexual Harassment means something for something which refers to sexual favors.
For example: if a supervisor were to tell an employee she would be more likely to be promoted if she dressed sexier, that would be considered Quid Pro Quo sexual harassment.
There are many legal provisions incorporated worldwide to handle this menace. In India, to deal with this heinous crime legal provisions have been incorporated and laws are made in the context of sexual harassment at the workplace.
Section 354 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 states that “Assault or criminal force to woman with intent to outrage her modesty — Whoever uses criminal force to any woman, intending to outrage or knowing it to be likely that he will thereby outrage her modesty, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description of a term which may extend to two years, or fine, or both”.
And a new section 354A is incorporated in the Indian Penal Code by the Criminal Law (Amendment) Ordinance, 2013 that rigorous imprisonment up to five years, or with fine, or with both in case of an offense described as: (i) physical contact and advances involving unwelcome and explicit sexual overtures; or (ii) a demand or request for sexual favors and imprisonment up to one year, or with fine, or with both in cases like: (i) making sexually colored remarks, or (ii) forcibly showing pornography, or (iii) any other unwelcome physical, verbal or non-verbal conduct of sexual nature. In 2013, the Sexual Harassment at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act 2013 was enacted.
It defines sexual harassment as laid down by the Apex Court in Vishakha and others V. State of Rajasthan and Others.
Sexual harassment is always done by those who are in power and they can easily exploit those who are under their thumb. Recently those people are accused with sexual harassment who are most respected in society.
Sexual Harassment – a slow and silent Rape
Sexual Harassment is a slow and silent rape as a woman suffers from mental trauma. She feels like a toy. Sexual harassment activity not only deeply breaks a woman from the inside but also affects her self-respect and image in society. Women don’t speak for themselves easily, especially in these matters with a view that it may affect their reputation at the workplace and other male counterparts try to take benefit of the situation. This Silence gives men strength to harass women more and walk in the society without any fear. And woman can easily and constantly be harassed by their male colleagues and employers. Being part of sexual activities without consent amounts to slow and silent rape. So hence it’s not wrong to say that sexual harassment is a slow and silent rape.
Here are a few steps that should be taken to prevent sexual harassment at the workplace:
1. Use of cameras :
The use of hidden cameras should be mandatory at every workplace so that wrongdoers would think twice before committing the offense.
2. Counselors :
Counselors should be there at every workplace so that female workers can easily talk about their issues with the male workers and if facing harassment then they can speak up for their selves and a counselor should be a woman.
3. Rigorous Punishment :
The punishment should be more rigorous. It should extend to 7 years or more. The fine should be increased.
4. Immediate termination of Wrongdoer :
The wrongdoer must be immediately terminated from his services. This is a lesson for those who have mens rea and think of committing such wrong.
5. Special committees :
There must be special committees at the workplace that can check this menace regularly and keep an eye on the offenders. There should be women on such committees.
6. Measures by Police :
The attitude of police needs to be made more positive towards victims. Every case of sexual harassment must be handled by a woman officer.
7. Helpline Numbers :
A special helpline number should be introduced for those who are sexually harassed. Women’s helpline numbers are busy most of the time because they have to handle other women’s issues.