The past few days have seen a lot of discussion, online and offline, around the subject of sexual harassment at the workplace. The Indian advertising and media industry is as plagued by this problem as any other industry is.
Calling out sexual harassment is the first step towards fighting it. But the step that comes even before that is understanding what exactly sexual harassment is. Amid news about allegations and revelations, we came across an article in TheIndianExpress.com (published on October 10, 2018) that spells out the guidelines for recognising, and then dealing with, sexual harassment at the workplace.
In 1997, the Supreme Court laid down a judgment specifying the procedural guidelines to be used in cases of sexual harassment; this set of guidelines is termed the Vishakha Guidelines. Then in 2013, The Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act was passed. This act broadened the Vishakha Guidelines.
One of the guidelines directs institutions to establish a Complaints Committee, a team that looks into matters regarding sexual harassment of women at the workplace. The 2013 Act broadened this, by mandating the formation of such a committee at every office or branch with ten or more employees.
Sexual harassment includes any one or more of the following unwelcome acts or behaviour committed directly or by implication:
1. Physical contact and advances
2. A demand or request for sexual favours
3. Sexually coloured remarks
4. Showing pornography
5. Any other unwelcome physical, verbal or non-verbal conduct of sexual nature.
The Women & Child Development Ministry has published a Handbook on Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace with more details.
The Act also states the complaint of sexual harassment has to be made within three months of the incident.
To read the article referenced above, click here.
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