Worried India’s Sexual Harassment Laws Are Too Complex? Allow This Book To Explain!

Life is hard for everyone, however, being a woman has its own limitations. One day she is treated like a goddess and next, beaten to the ground. She is a beauty with scars and bruises, born out of countless abuses.

Since childhood, a girl is instructed to sit properly, laugh properly, talk softly and come home early. Instances of harassment, molestation and sexual harassment have occurred irrespective of how a woman behaves at home, workplace or in public. In such situations, a girl either keeps quiet, scared of critical judgment and character shaming or suffers the consequences of taking action.

Body shaming, lewd comments, and wild stares have become a daily routine. Hence, it is important to not just raise our voice but also act on the problem and serve justice to the survivors. Ignorance would only open a window of opportunity for these perpetrators.

The #MeToo movement hit the country like a rock, a huge number of women from the entertainment industry came forward to take action against sexual harassment. The silence was broken! They not only threw light on the ground reality of the entertainment industry but also inspired many other women to do the same. It is disappointing that trustworthy people who were once considered as idols are often the cause of such misery.

Sexual harassment at the workplace hinders personal and professional growth of a woman and people associated with her. Sexual harassment at the workplace is an emotionally, mentally and physically traumatic experience for the aggrieved and the people associated with them. The Hachette India publication, Prevention of Sexual Harassment at the Workplace, a book by the Martha Farrell Foundation is a step-by-step guide for the prevention, prohibition, and redressal of sexual harassment at the workplace.

The book is divided into parts and intimates the reader about The Sexual Harassment at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act of 2013.

There are types of sexual harassment at a workplace which include stereotypical roles, male work ethics and unequal opportunities along with the body language of the male colleagues, the jargon used to define a woman’s identity, and sexual favours.

Sexual harassment can be verbal in the form of jargon, comments or jokes and physical in the form of inappropriate touching, stalking, unwelcome hugging, etc. Often these are deemed as ‘humour’ and a part of ‘work culture.’ One should be aware of and respect the boundaries of the other person, as it is the impact and not the intent that matters.

The book has listed do’s and don’t ‘s as a co-worker as well as a detailed timeline for redressal. The book answers questions like, the steps that need to be taken by an organisation to adhere to the law, the consequences for non-compliance, and how workplaces can be made safer for women. It summarises the definitions, forms of sexual harassment, along with the roles and responsibilities of the organisations, employers, and colleagues.

The book is useful in understanding the Act, its mandates and the procedure to be followed, and provides sample formats and forms for the same.

An Internal Committee (IC) should be set up in every organisation while Local Committees in every district. It aids in understanding key concepts related to sexual harassment and provides additional reading materials and resources. Schools and colleges also come under the umbrella of the workplace, therefore, every school and college must set up an IC.

On the whole, the book is a visual A-Z manual with easy-to-understand explanations, detailed key processes, and case studies along with sample letters, reporting formats, outlines, and draft policies to aid internal and external compliance. It is a must-read and an informative guide for you, me and anyone who wants to make the workplace or any other space a safe place.

Featured image source: MFF/Twitter.
Similar Posts

A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform Change.org, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on Change.org has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in Change.org’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

Sign up for the Youth Ki Awaaz Prime Ministerial Brief below