STOP SEXUAL HARASSMENT AT WORKPLACE #baatchalao
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The Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013 is a bold step towards prevention of sexual harassment of women at their workplaces. This Act makes it legally necessary for every organisation to formulate a committee of its employees on redressal of sexual harassment issues faced by women as it is difficult for many to discuss the issues faced by them with people in general. Unfortunately, most women are still unaware of the Act or the committee has not been formed for their help.
Signing this Petition will help all of us in spreading awareness on the prevention of sexual harassment at workplace and making this information available on every company's website. This will make the information required for seeking help easily available to women facing sexual harassment as and when needed.
Sexual harassment is an everyday problem for working women in India. It is a hard reality, but nonetheless it is our reality. This causes tremendous stress, emotional trauma, loss of self worth, lack of self confidence as well as loss of valuable work opportunities for many women and their dependents .
The Government of India understood the problem and rolled out the ‘Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013’. This law mandated that all employers in a workplace must constitute a committee for the redressal of issues concerning sexual harassment for their women employees. This implies a legal responsibility on the employer to enforce a model conduct to create safer workplaces, free from sexual harassment within their organisations.
Furthermore, the Act turns the otherwise criminal offence of sexual harassment into a lesser offence. Now, the Internal Complaints Committee through the employer can issue punishment such as demotion or censures to the culprit, instead of the rigorous imprisonment of upto 3 years under the Indian Penal Code, 1860.
More Important Features of the Act:
- Mandatory constitution of Internal Complaints Committee (Also called, ICC, POSH Committee, WIPS Cell – women in public sector cell, etc.) at all branches having more than 10 employees.
- Mandatory requirement to create awareness programs for ‘Prevention of Sexual Harassment’ (POSH) for all employees of that organisation male and female.
- Prosecution of the Employer on failure to comply with the requirements under the Act.
- Provision with respect to reconciliation at the request of the aggrieved women.
- Employer is required to showcase the details of the members of the Internal Complaints Committee at every workplace.
- Employer is required to update information on sexual harassment as per ICC annual report in his annual financial statements.
The Act considers awareness as the most important tool to curb sexual harassment and entrusts the employer with the responsibility to educate their employees. Even though the Act mandates that details of the ICC (Internal Complaints Committee) should be displayed at a clearly visible place in every office, sometimes;
- The employer doesn’t put up the notice intentionally, and/or
- The place of display of notice is not clearly visible, and/or
- The aggrieved woman has to go back physically to access the information, and/or
- The employer is unaware of his / her legal duty and does not put up the notice, and/or due to any other reason it is inaccessible to the women employees in need.
- The information about prevention of sexual harassment is not available on company’s website which makes it difficult and sometimes discouraging to women in need.
- The primary purpose of the Act is in itself defeated if a woman who needs help cannot get it in time. Display of physical copies of notice about the Act is done primarily in letter of the law, not in its spirit and many women have to continue facing the menace of Sexual Harassment at work every single day of their lives.
Currently, the employer is not required to upload the information regarding the basic details of the members of the ICC, POSH Committee, WIPS Committee etc. on their website. This causes a lot of trouble to any woman who need the information as and when required. The delay and suffering caused to these women may be removed by simply making it mandatory for every organisation to upload the information with respect to, Names, Designations, Email Addresses and Telephone numbers of their POSH committee on the organisations website.
Improper application of the law and non-compliance leaves a loop hole for mischief-makers to continue taking advantage of the vulnerable situation that women in India currently are in.
Making information about the ICC or POSH committee on the company’s website is a must in our pursuit to create a safer and equal opportunity workplaces for women and men alike.
Proper implementation of the Act will ensure:
- Reduction in Sexual Harassment faced by women at workplace.
- Sense of security in women going and coming home from work.
- Improvement in mental, financial and emotional health of women in India.
- The families of women who are working will feel safer and happier.
- That no perpetrator of sexual harassment will be allowed to go scot free.
- Better contribution from women towards the growth of Indian economy.
- That the Constitutional mandate towards women will be upheld along with the CEDAW and other international conventions to which India is a signatory.
- That this is the start of a new India which respects and appreciates all, without any discrimination on the basis of gender or sex.
- Ensuring equal work opportunity for women without being subjected to gender-biases or disregard of their working capabilities.
- Creating safer workplaces for all at all times.
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