Sexual Harassment Of Women In India

Posted on November 17, 2011 in Specials

By Barkha Sethi:

Is being a girl a punishment? Is being a girl means losing her own self respect and still working for her family, for others? Is being a girl means to spend her life in just four walls of her house?

The questions above being asked are because of the irrational and undesirable behaviors of men in and outside homes, which every second girl has to face daily in her routine life. This kind of unexpected behavior is known as Sexual Harassment. Sexual harassment is intimidation, bullying or coercion of a sexual nature, or the unwelcome or inappropriate promise of rewards in exchange for sexual favors.

Sexual harassment could take place anywhere, at any time, by anyone and in any form. It could happen at public places, school, educational institutes, workplace, even at home. Sexual harassment can be verbal (comments about your body, spreading sexual rumors, sexual remarks or accusations, dirty jokes or stories), physical (grabbing, rubbing, flashing or mooning, touching, pinching in a sexual way, sexual assault) or visual (display of naked pictures or sex-related objects, obscene gestures). Sexual harassment can happen to girls and boys. Sexual harassers can be fellow students, teachers, principals, janitors, coaches, and other school officials.

The victims of sexual harassment are mostly girls/women. It indicates that it is not safe for girls to move out of their houses. They are harassed everywhere might be it an educational institute or workplace. Even age is not a concern. Either a little school going girl or a middle aged lady all are same in the eyes of harassers. Harassers are just like hungry beasts who just want a prey to satisfy their hunger.

I would like to clear the situations which girls have to face at different places by giving a true example, a girl, in medical college of first year was threatened by her professor to attend his classes failing which, the professor insulted and humiliated her in the class. He blackmailed her to spend a night. Finally the girl complained against the professor to the college management and continued her studies.

Every second girl in the world has to face such situations daily. One of the difficulties in understanding sexual harassment is that it involves a range of behavior, and is often difficult for the recipient to describe to themselves, and to others, exactly what they are experiencing. Moreover, behavior and motives vary between individual harassers.

Effects of sexual harassment can vary depending on the individual, and the severity and duration of the harassment. Often, sexual harassment incidents fall into the category of the “merely annoying.” However, many situations can, and do, have life-altering effects particularly when they involve severe/chronic abuses, and/or retaliation against a victim who does not submit to the harassment, or who complains about it openly. Indeed, psychologists and social workers report that severe/chronic sexual harassment can have the same psychological effects as rape or sexual assault.

Sexual harassment is illegal. If a girl is being harassed then she need not to be afraid but try to fight against it and get the harasser punished. If she is being sexually harassed then she should tell someone who could help her. She could opt for following steps:

  • Say “No” Clearly: Tell the person who is harassing you that his/her behavior offends you. They may not realize how hurtful their behavior is and may need a clear message from you to stop.
  • Complaint the Authority:  File a written or verbal complaint to the highest authority like the principal, teacher, manager, boss or your parents specifying the whole situation with accurate time and date. If possible, show the proofs, like a letter or any slip.
  • File a Complaint With a Government Agency: In India there are not many laws regarding the same. Those found guilty can be punished under section 294 and sec 509 of IPC. Recently, in 2006, Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Bill, 2006 has been passed. According to India’s constitution, sexual harassment infringes the fundamental right of a woman to gender equality under Article 14 of the Constitution of India and her right to life and live with dignity under Article 21 of the Constitution.

Even after so many efforts of the Government of India the cases for sexual harassment have seen no decline. The people who are assigned for our help, that is the cops and Government employees, are now themselves are seen as harassers in many cases. The provisions contain several loopholes which can be exploited easily by the harasser in his favor. Clearly the provisions and laws need to be more comprehensive to provide a means of justice to those who have been victims and a means of protection for those who could be potential victims.