As more and more women in India have begun to call out sexual harassment at work, here’s a look at how the law defines sexual harassment at the workplace and the guidelines for recognising sexual harassment.
The Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act was passed in 2013. It defines sexual harassment, lays down the procedures for a complaint and inquiry, and the action to be taken. It broadens the Vishaka guidelines, which were already in place. It mandates that every employer constitute an Internal Complaints Committee (ICC) at each office or branch with 10 or more employees. It lays down procedures and defines various aspects of sexual harassment, including aggrieved victim — a woman “of any age whether employed or not”, who “alleges to have been subjected to any act of sexual harassment”, which means the rights of all women working or visiting any workplace, in any capacity, are protected under the Act.
It mandates that every employer constitute an Internal Complaints Committee (ICC) at each office or branch with 10 or more employees.
Sexual harassment includes “any one or more” of the following “unwelcome acts or behaviour” committed directly or by implication such as, physical contact and advances, a demand or request for sexual favours,
sexually coloured remarks, showing pornography or any other unwelcome physical, verbal or non-verbal conduct of sexual nature.
The Act also says the aggrieved victim “may” make, in writing, a complaint of sexual harassment. If she cannot, any member of the ICC “shall” render “all reasonable assistance” to her for making the complaint in writing. And if the woman is unable to make a complaint on account of her “physical or mental incapacity or death or otherwise”, her legal heir may do so.
The complaint of sexual harassment has to be made “within three months from the date of the incident”. For a series of incidents, it has to be made within three months from the date of the last incident. However, this is not rigid. The ICC can “extend the time limit” if “it is satisfied that the circumstances were such which prevented the woman from filing a complaint within the said period”. The ICC is to record these reasons. ( Story Courtesy : Wires)