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Sexual Harassment of Women At Workplace

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Sexual Harassment Of Women At Workplace: Harassment of women at work is a violation of their right to equality, life and liberty. It can create a hostile and insecure work environment that discourages women from participating in work. This negatively impacts their economic and social empowerment. This idea was used by the legislature to create the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013.

In Vishaka v State of Rajasthan, the Supreme Court first recognized the need for such legislation. The Supreme Court, exercising its power under Article 32 of the Constitution, created guidelines that should be followed by all workplaces and institutions until such legislation is passed. The Constitution of India, Article 14-15, 19(1)(g), and 21 contained basic human rights. Also included were provisions of the Convention on Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), ratified by the Government of India in 1993. These guidelines were to be regarded as law under Article 141 of the Constitution.

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Brief Analysis Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace Act & Rules

After 16 years of Vishaka, the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace – Prevention, Prohibition and Redress Act 2013 (“the Act”) was passed. With the aim to protect women from sexual harassment at work. And for the prevention and resolution of complaints of harassment and any matter related thereto.

The Act also outlines the circumstances in which an action could be considered sexual harassment. These are:

  1. Implied or explicit promise of preferential treatment during her employment.
  2. The implicit or explicit threat of adverse treatment during her employment.
  3. Implicit or explicit threat regarding her current or future employment status.
  4. Interfering with her work, or creating an intimidating, offensive, or hostile work environment.
  5. Harmful treatment that is likely to cause her injury or death.

Posh Sexual Harassment:

Every Employer is required to provide a safe work environment that includes safety from all persons who come into contact with the workplace under the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace Prevention, Prohibition & Redress Act and Rules, 2013. (Section 19(a)).

It provides that the victim can file a complaint against the organization for sexual harassment and request redress via the internal process. All organizations, private or public, with 10 or more employees (permanent, temporary, ad-hoc consultants, interns, or contract workers, regardless of gender), are required by law to adhere to certain requirements.

Create an Internal Committee with an External Member :

The Law requires that all organizations have an internal committee, which must include:

  • A Presiding Officer
  • Minimum 2 employees from each group
  • 1 External member (independent individual from NGO or associations dedicated to the cause for women or someone familiar with the issues related to sexual harassment).
  • Women must make up at least half of the total members
  • IC term is three years

By an Order in Writing, Constitute an Inter Committee:

  • Employers must make an order in writing to create the IC under the POSH Law. To be legally constituted, an IC must be formally established (in writing).
  • “Order in writing” could mean different things to different types of organizations, depending on the type of registration.

Posh Prevention of Sexual Harassment:

Every organization must define its sexual harassment policies and procedures according to the Prevention of Sexual Harassment at Workplace Act of India. Recent reports indicate a rise in sexual harassment cases at work.

In Conclusion : 

Sexual harassment is defined by the Act as any unwelcome behavior or act (directly or indirectly). Including that physical contact and advances, making sexually colored remarks, pornography. Or any other unwelcome physical or verbal conduct of a sexual nature. Any form of sexual activity that the opposite party does not like is in a way sexual harassment. In Shanta, the Delhi High Court ruled that any physical contact or advances could be considered sexual harassment if they are part of a sexually determined behavior. Sexual harassment may not be a result of physical contact that has no sexual undertone and is not caused by the gender of the complainant.

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