Men are no longer the only breadwinners of the family because women are now also in the race. Globalization has changed a lot for women worldwide because it has educated them and also given them work opportunities. However, with this increase in women’s employment, sexual harassment to them at work has also increased.
However, the behaviour of their seniors, colleagues, and also unwanted individuals embrace workplace harassment. It is so offensive, threatening, and unbearable to an individual. Harassment can also be verbal abuse, visual abuse, uncontrolled anger, interference in the personal space, or destruction. It is gender discrimination in the form of workplace sexual harassment. It violates a woman’s fundamental right to equality and the right to life. The right is guaranteed under Articles 14, 15, and 21 of the Indian Constitution. Such an act also creates an insecure and restricted environment for women. It also degrades their full capacity to do work. Not only just the performance at work is affected but also their social and economic growth is hindered. And also not to forget their physical and emotional suffering.
The Ministry of Women and Child Development enacted the POSH Act “the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013”. This was the first legislation that addressed the issue of workplace sexual harassment. Criminal Act of 2013 has criminalized sexual harassment, stalking, and also voyeurism.
Landmark Case: Vishaka & Ors. Vs. State of Rajasthan AIR 1997 SC 3011
Facts: Banwari Devi was a social worker and was of a lower caste. All she tried to do was stop a child’s marriage in her village. This led to brutal gang rape by five men of the upper-class community. No thorough investigation was done even after the complaint was lodged. This incident was an eye-opener for the society about the harassment a working woman may face. After the incident, a writ petition filed in the supreme court. It enforced the fundamental right of working under Article 14, 19, and 21 of the Constitution of India. The main motto was to find suitable methods and truly enforcing “Gender equality”.
Judgment: The Supreme Court of India held that sexual harassment at the workplace violates Articles 14, 15, 19(1)(g), 21, 42, 51A, 51, and 253 of the Indian Constitution.Strict compliance in all workplaces for enforcing gender equality.
Some salient features of the POSH Act
- The authorities and the responsible person of the institution should fulfill the guidelines laid by the court. So, as to prevent sexual harassment at the workplace, the employer or any other authority should prescribe for settlements and procedures.
- A complaint committee to set up at the workplace.
- A woman employee along and an NGO should head the committee.
- The committee should have half female members.
- Only the company should deal with complaints of sexual harassment the woman. The employer should take appropriate action according to the law.
Nikhil Ranjan Upadhyay | Founder & Deputy Editor-in-Chief