Sexual Harassment

SEXUAL HARASSMENT

Sexual harassment is age old social practice. It’s a kind of discrimination on the basis of sex which generally occurred in work place.  Recently only sexual harassment is recognized as “sexual harassment” and was prohibited as a form of sex discrimination. Sexual harassment is unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual  nature that tends to create a hostile or offensive work environment. Sometimes people might get confuse between incidents of sexual harassment and incidents of flirtation in workplace. But the term unwelcome is strong enough to distinguish between these two incidents. We understand from sexual harassment as Unwelcomed, unwanted and uninvited conduct or communication from a heterosexual employee of opposite sex. Law renders protection for such kind of harassment. But what if same unwelcomed, unwanted and uninvited conduct or communication is made by a heterosexual employee to other heterosexual employee of same sex or in short harassment by a homosexual employee to other employee of same sex? Does law prohibits this too? The answer is yes, law prohibits every kind of sexual harassment irrespective of sexual orientation of parties.    In India our Constitution itself guaranteed equality of status and opportunity as a basic fundamental right in that place the incidents of sexual harassment is gross violation of constitution right of women. This kind of acts actually creates hostile and insecure working environment for woman and also demoralizing and discouraging women’s participation and this adversely affects their social and economic growth in then society. In India a specific law is passed to deal with sexual harassment at workplace in the year of 2013 in the name of Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013. This law enacted after the landmark judgment of Supreme Court in Vishaka vs. State of Rajasthan 1997(7) SCC 323 , a woman employee working under Government of Rajasthan in Rural Development Program was brutally gang raped for her efforts which she is making to prevent and curb the menace of child marriage in that area.  The Supreme Court, in this case laid down guidelines making it mandatory for every employer to provide a mechanism to redress grievances pertaining to workplace sexual harassment and enforce the right to gender equality of working women, formation of complaint committee, disciplinary action, criminal action. The term sexual harassment includes: a) Physical contact and advances; b) A demand or request for sexual favours; c) Sexually coloured remarks; d) Showing pornography; e) Any other unwelcome physical, verbal or non-verbal conduct of sexual nature. First time Supreme Court while delivering judgment in this case place reliance with Convention on all forms of discrimination against woman 1979. And further Supreme Court stated that till enactment of specific law in this regard these guidelines will applicable to deal with the Cases of sexual harassment at work place. Finally after a long gap of Vishaka’s judgment the specific law has enacted in this regard to curb the social menace of sexual harassment in 2013.

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