One of the important gifts of modernization is equal recognition of the calibre of women. Restricted to the household works and raising of children, the women were confined to the four walls of the house in the earlier times. However, the evolution in the society has enabled the identification of the talent of the women and their right to earning a livelihood. Nowadays, men and women work together and earn themselves a respectable living in the society. Although, co-working is now a socially accepted phenomenon, women at workplace are often subjected to harassment and misbehaviour by their employers and co-workers.
Sexual Harassment activities have been identified as unwelcome behaviour by any person either individually or in association with other persons or by any person in authority whether directly or by implication such as eve-teasing, physical contact and advances, sharing offensive data or any other unwelcome physical, verbal or non-verbal conduct of sexual nature.
Present Day Scenario
There have been numerous episodes disclosing ill-treatment against the female staff by their colleagues. Not restricted to limited segment of the society, even the most glamourous professions come within this darker side. Owing to many reasons including exploitation as well as harassment by enquiring authorities and questioning eyes of the society, such instances are continuing and majorly, not reported.
In the recent times, a change is being witnessed where the problem of sexual harassment in work place is increasingly coming into light with more and more women are bringing such cases to the knowledge of the people and bringing the awareness in the society, and in many cases to the records of police also, whereas earlier they were hiding these issues.
A number of efforts are being made with a view to ensure the provision of safe working environment for the women. The Supreme Court of India vide its judgement in the leading case of Vishakha and others V. State of Rajasthan1 laid the guidelines for ensuring a safe work environment by casting a duty on employer to prevent or deter the commission of acts of sexual harassment and to provide the procedures for the resolution, settlement or prosecution for the same while holding that Gender Equality as a part of the Fundamental Rights enshrined under Articles 14 (Right to Equality), 19 (Right to Freedom) & 21 (Right to Life) of the Constitution of India.
The Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013 was enforced which provides for constitution of Internal Complaints Committee to monitor and regulate the complaints of sexual harassment, settlement through conciliation, is the duty of the employer as per Section 19 to provide a safe working environment, inform about penal consequences for committing sexual harassment, organization of workshops and awareness programmes sensitizing the employees, providing adequate redressal forum, etc.
Need for more...
Even though efforts have been made to tackle the issue of sexual harassment at workplace, the repeated cases have risen the concerns of the Government. In order to reinforce the legal mechanism in the said regards, the Group of Ministers are in process of strengthening the existing framework of rules and regulations as well as for institution set ups to create an efficient and effective system to control the problem of sexual harassment.2 The Government is working to devise new strategies and policies for protecting the rights of the women based on the recommendations by the legislature.
In furtherance of the same, the Government has launched an electronic complaint box to allow women to submit their complaints of sexual harassment committed against them, irrespective of their work status.
India is making consistent efforts to make it a women friendly working environment.
1. (AIR 1997 SC 3011)
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