Sexual Harassment at the Workplace
Here’s another issue that’s been way overdue for women, and we can’t believe it took as long as it did to get fixed. Before 1997, anyone lodging a formal complaint against sexual harassment in the workplace had to do so under laws that only referenced a “woman’s modesty” being “outraged”. Yes, totally ridiculous, we know.
Everything changed after a horrific incident in 1997 in Rajasthan, which enraged a group of women who began demanding laws specifically covering the sexual harassment of women at the workplace, and the Vishakha Guidelines were formed by the Supreme Court of India as a result.
These guidelines were revised in The Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace Act, 2013. This Act makes it illegal to sexually harass women in the workplace, discusses the different ways in which a woman could be sexually harassed, and explains how one can complain against this kind of behaviour.
Despite what assumptions one may have, requesting sexual favours is not the only kind of sexual harassment the Act recognises. Also included are unwelcome physical, verbal or non-verbal conduct of a sexual nature, showing pornography, physical contact or advances, and even making sexually-coloured remarks.
The Act however specifically covers only the harassment of women, and no other gender is offered the same protection. It might be time then, for yet another revision of this Act.