WHAT IS SEXUAL HARASSMENT?

Law
22-Nov-2021
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Sexual harassment is the most common workplace crime in the professional space, and it is only now that we have laws in place against it.

These laws have assured people of their rights and encouraged people to raise awareness and voice their concerns over it. Let's take a look at the nitty-gritty of Sexual Harassment and what it really means - 

Definition:

Sexual harassment includes unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct that are sexual in nature.

Under the Sexual Harassment at Workplace Act, 2013, sexual harassment includes:

  1. Physical contact and advances (including touching someone inappropriately without consent even if it does not amount to rape)

  2. A demand or request for sexual favors

  3. Making sexually colored remarks (including sexist jokes or misogynist humor)

  4. Showing pornography

  5. Any other unwelcome physical, verbal or non-verbal conduct of sexual nature.

Under the Act, the below five also count as sexual harassment:

  1. Implied or explicit promise of preferential treatment in her employment.

  2. The implied or explicit threat of detrimental treatment in her employment.

  3. The implied or explicit threat about her present or future employment status

  4. Interference with her work or creating an intimidating or offensive work environment for her.

  5. Humiliating treatment is likely to affect her health or safety.

The Case of RK Pachauri

In February 2015, RK Pachauri, the then director-general of The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI), was accused of sexually harassing a researcher at the organization since September 2013.

The 74-year-old Pachauri, who was the former chairman of the Nobel prize-winning Intergovernmental Panel of Climate Change (IPCC), denied the allegations. He claimed his computer and phone were hacked, but the police discarded this. A week after the first complaint, another woman spoke up alleging sexual harassment by Pachauri.

In March 2016, the Delhi police charged the scientist with sexual harassment, assault, or use of criminal force on a woman with intent to disrobe, stalking and gesturing, or acting to insult the modesty of a woman. TERI first appointed Pachauri as executive vice-chairman despite the allegations but eventually dismissed him from the institution.

GENDER BIAS IN SEXUAL HARASSMENT ACT:

Sexual harassment cases are always expected to be raised by females. For the longest time, harassment of males was a topic that was not even uttered, and it was always assumed to be a crime done by them to their counter-gender.

But in recent times, gender equality has found its way here too. A number of cases have surfaced about harassment of men done by both genders. It is vital to be aware of workplace harassment of men too, and reach out to them and help them raise voices against the harasser. 

CONCLUSION:

Sexual harassment has become a very hazardous condition in the workplace. More often than not, it becomes a very traumatic event for the victim and can cause psychological disruptions. We’ve to strive to make a safer workplace for everyone that is respectful and harmonious.