Sexual Harassment at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013

Introduction

The root of sexual harassment goes deep down into the patriarchy of our society. According to this perception, it can be seen that men are superior to women. Also, the same perception makes some forms of sexual violence against women is acceptable. One of these forms is workplace sexual harassment. It is one of the gross violations of women’s right to equality and dignity. Men often believe it to be as ‘harmless flirting’ or ‘natural’ male behavior. However, when seen from the other side, one cannot expect what imprints it leaves on a women’s heart. The acts of sexual harassment do affect the morale of the employees, their work performance and the reputation of the firm.

Enactment of the Act

With the increasing workforce of women, it is important to safeguard their dignity as well. Though, Article 14 i.e. Right to Equality before law, Article 15 i.e. Prohibition of discrimination on the grounds of religion, race, caste, sex, place of birth etc and Article 21 i.e. Right to life and personal liberty of the Constitution of India, guarantees equal protection to women. But, women in our country go through the various forms of discrimination in every way possible. India ratified a convention known as Convention on Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) 9th July 1993.

It underlines that discrimination and attacks on women’s dignity violate the principle of equality of rights. So, keeping in mind the protection of fundamental rights and to have a national law regarding the enhancement of the Convention it was necessary to bring the ‘The Sexual Harassment at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013’ in force. It came with an objective to provide protection against sexual harassment of women at workplace and for the prevention and redressal of complaints of sexual harassment.

Features of the Act

The Act has covered some definitions of words like aggrieved women, employer, employee, workplace, sexual harassment. As per the Act, there should be an Internal Complaint Committee (ICC) and where a number of employees are less than 10; then there should be a Local Complaint Committee (LCC). These Committees work as an in house mechanism for taking justice in the cases of are of sexual harassment that is being reported to them. The Courts are already being burdened by the cases and also the victim doesn’t want to engage in the Court proceedings regarding these types of acts.

Though the Committees are formed the cases of sexual harassment are not being reported to them because of the social stigma attached to the term ‘sexual harassment. In the Committee it is essential to have a woman who is having the experience with the cases of the NGOs or associations who deal with the issue of Sexual harassment or any social work.

The Act also provides with the duties of the employer. Some duties are:

  1. The employer must ensure the proper and reasonable enactment of the provisions of the Act. It is his first and foremost duty.
  2. The employer should establish an ICC and LCC.
  3. The employer should carry out awareness an orientation programmes on a regular basis.
  4. The organization must publicize the  consequences of the act of sexual harassment in a conspicuous place on the organization.
  5. The employer should help the victim in filing the complaint of sexual harassment.

Conclusion

Sexual Harassment is a mirror image of our society where women are always insignificant to that of a man. Therefore, Society forces them to subsist only in the traditional roles. These socio-cultural behaviour patterns enhance the instances of sexual harassment. As per the gender hierarchy, it is the responsibility of the victim to keep herself away from such situations. Also, not to share these types of incidences with anyone and keep it to yourself. Workplace harassment, like other harassment, is non-violent, but it affects the mental and physical health conditions of the employee which will indirectly be suffered by the nation as when the acts of sexual harassment will increase women will have to leave their job.