Sexual harassment involves any kind of unwelcome behaviour of a sexual nature. This type of harassment can take place with either of the genders and not just limited to females. It’s not about fun or friendship but involves the abuse of power. It is to be kept in mind that different persons respond differently in given situations. What may seem like an innocent comment or action to some person may be deemed offensive or derogatory to another. It is to be kept in mind that not all the time do females constitute to be the victim of sexual harassment. It is estimated that 50% of women employed in workplaces have been subjected to some kind of harassment be it physical or mental. It does not just happen with women working in large offices or with a predominant male environment but can also take place in any office irrespective of age, gender or community. The landmark judgment laid down by the Supreme Court in “Visakha vs State of Rajasthan, 1997” changed the scenario of women employed in workplaces. The employers now can face heavy charges against themselves if they fail to prevent sexual harassment at their offices. The rule is laid down by Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013.
Sexual harassment at workplace results in the violation of Article 14 and 15 of the Constitution of India which guarantees the right to equality and freedom to all the citizens throughout the country. It also leads in the violation of Article 21 of the Constitution which provides that every citizen has the right to live and that he has the absolute right of leading that life with dignity. Article 21 ensures that every person has an absolute right of practicing any profession with dignity. There are certain actions which constitute a hostile work environment such as:
This type of harassment occurs when a designated senior takes advantage of his seniority and asks a junior or subordinate to perform any such task or maybe through his words puts the subordinate in a position wherein he/she might not feel actually comfortable. The subordinate has no option other than to follow the commands of his senior and thus becomes a victim of harassment. In return, the senior might promise something to the junior but the junior nevertheless becomes a victim of harassment.
A hostile work environment is created when an employee repeatedly performs such actions which in their very nature are explicit or prohibited to be performed in the work place. Some of these actions might be:
There are various compliances which the organizations nowadays have to follow for ensuring a better and a safe work environment for each of their employees. Some of the compliances are:
Before the judgment in Visakha vs State of Rajasthan, our country did not have any strict norms for the protection and safeguarding of females at the workplace. Instead, no one paid any heed towards it because it was considered to be an inherent part of the job. But with time, the authorities came to their senses and realized that such kind of acts cannot be allowed to take place in the work environment. Be it a male or a female, both of them need to be ensured about their safety and security within the four walls of their organization. The induction of Sexual Harassment (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013 has ensured that the big organizations induce the clause of no sexual harassment in their company policies.
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