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SUBMITTED BY: DEEPIKA DEVARAJAN MMS 2ND YEAR SPECIALISATION: MARKETING ROLL # 09
1. CASE# 1: PHANEESH MURTHY…………………………. 2. CASE# 2: PRATHIBHA SRINIVASA MURTHY…………. 3. CASE# 3: ARUNA SHANBAUG……………………………. 4. WORKPLACE ETHICS……………………………………… 5. SEX, LIES AND MALICE AT THE WORKPLACE………. 6. TYPES OF HARASSMENT…………………………………. 7. EFFECTS OF HARASSMENT……………………………….. 8. SEXUAL HARASSMENT: THE INDIAN SCENARIO…….. 9. PREVENTON AND RESOLUTION………………………….. 10. THE MALE VIEWPOINT……………………………………... 11. CONCLUSION…………………………………………………… 12. REFERENCES……………………………………………………
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13.Case# 01: Phaneesh Murthy and Infosys
On 17 December 2001, Reka Maximovitch filed a sexual harassment case against Infosys Technologies and its high-profile director (sales and marketing) Phaneesh Murthy. In April 2003, Infosys closed the case with a $3-million out-of-court composite settlement. That means that in return for the money, Maximovitch surrenders her right to sue either the company or Murthy. And while Maximovitch moved out of the picture with the settlement, Phaneesh Murthy and the company have been on a war of words—press releases to be exact—in a case that’s getting unseemly after the resolution.
18 October 1999: Reka Maximovitch joins Infosys as Phaneesh Murthy’s assistant. December 2000: Reka Maximovitch quits Infosys January-June 2001: Reka takes out two restraining orders against Phaneesh; of which she alleges at least one was violated 17 December 2001: Reka files a case against Phaneesh Murthy and Infosys for "sexual harassment and wrongful termination" January 2002: Phaneesh warns Nilekani of the possibility of a sexual harassment case against him and the organization. Says he is innocent and the company is not at risk 23 July 2002: Phaneesh quits 25 April 2003: Case settled out of court for $3 mn, payable in a month
REKA’S COMPLAINT Maximovitch alleges: "I was subjected to verbal sexual harassment, to unwanted sexual advances, and to visual sexual harassment." 3
The organization failed "to take reasonable steps to keep harassment from occurring and recurring". PARA IX OF THE COMPLAINT "Murthy repeatedly told the plaintiff that he was in complete charge of all of Infosys’ US operations, that he answered to no one regarding how he ran the US offices, and that no one in United States had the authority to compel him to take, or not to take, any action regarding Infosys or its employees. The plaintiff observed that Murthy in fact had such authority, that he hired and fired employees on whim, and that he took pride in his ability to control people’s lives and careers in this way."
Despite his relationship with Maximovitch going public, Phaneesh Murthy, on the other hand, has repeatedly claimed innocence. He said: "I was not guilty, so I didn’t want to participate financially in the settlement." As for Infosys —the company was among the first Indian IT companies to declare it had a sexual harassment initiative to prevent just these kinds of incidents. And yet quite obviously, those initiatives and HR practices failed miserably... making it also the first IT company to have ever faced such a suit. So what went wrong? Where was that gaping hole through which $3 million tumbled out? Some of these questions will never be answered
CASE# 02 Prathibha Srikanth Murthy
A taxi-driver raped and killed a 24-year-old call centre employee in Bangalore after picking her up from home for an early morning shift. Prathibha Srikanth Murthy, who got married recently, was picked up at about 2am on Tuesday. But instead of taking her to her HP GlobalSoft call centre, the driver took her to an underdeveloped suburb. The crime came to light when Prathibha’s husband, a software engineer, lodged a missing complaint with the police. Later on Tuesday, the driver confessed to raping and killing the woman. The driver had planned to molest the victim. But when she raised an alarm, he slit her throat. It is surprising that the call centre did not provide escorts to woman employees. It is a big negligence. HP GlobalSoft officials were summoned by police to organise security for female employees. They later said new security measures are being put in place. HP GlobalSoft said the driver who killed their employee was assigned another route, but the one who was to pick her up arrived a little late. “The driver who collected the employee from her residence was unauthorized The new measures have come a bit late in the day for Prathibha.
CASE# 03 ARUNA SHANBAUG On June 1 this year, Aruna Shanbaug turned 60. But she'll never know that, just as she has remained oblivious to all her birthdays since November 27, 1973.
On that day, 25-year-old Aruna, then a nurse working at Mumbai's KEM hospital, was attacked by a ward boy Sohanlal Bhartha Walmiki, while she was changing clothes in the hospital basement. Walmiki first choked her with a dog collar, then raped and robbed her. The asphyxiation cut off the oxygen supply to her brain. As a result, she has become cortically blind her eyes can see but her brain does not register the images. She was also diagnosed with brain stem contusion injury and cervical cord injury. She cannot speak, emote, use her limbs or control her muscles. For 35 years, she's been living a vegetative existence on a bed in KEM hospital. Walmiki was convicted but while Aruna is serving a life sentence, he served a mere six years in jail. The worst part: he was not sentenced for rape because he had not committed the rape vaginally; it was anal. The examination of Aruna, when she was found the next morning, was done with what is called the finger test. Fingers inserted into vagina to check virginity she still was; so that was that. At the time, Aruna was engaged to a junior doctor at the hospital. The then hospital dean chose not to report the anal rape to the police in order to spare the couple the public disclosure. The fiance was also discouraged from being a complainant. Instead, a sub-inspector became the complainant because no one else was willing. The judgment against the rapist noted "that the victim was menstruating and the accused had gone there with the intention to rape". But as Bhartha was not charged with rape, he was convicted only for attempt to murder and robbery. He was sentenced to seven years, which was reduced to six because he had already served a year in lock-up. After his release, Walmiki reportedly moved to Delhi. But Aruna has remained in a twilight zone. She needs to be fed (mashed food), turned over once in a while, cleaned
she can do nothing on her own. She does not need any medicines or even nurses. There's just an ayah. And no one else. Aruna's family asked for financial compensation and an apartment. They were refused and that's when they abandoned her. Her fiance remained devoted to her till his marriage a few years later. Aruna was actually quite an ambitious girl. She had found a nice man, planned on a home, kids as well as a consultancy or a nursing home with her husband. Now, there's no hope of her recovery.
The above three cases are reported cases of sexual assaults against women at their places of work. But there are several more which go unreported.
WHAT'S WORKPLACE ETHICS?
Workplace ethics, is a constant and evolving challenge that has direct impact on businesses and reputation. Both management and employees have been trying to
incorporate ethics into their office system that can help in retaining and attracting employees and customers alike. A few of the interesting recalls from respondents on unethical behaviour noticed by co-workers incude:
Kolkata: Bribing for business purpose and sexual harassment Mumbai, Pune, Ahmedabad: False commitment to customers and harassment by seniors Hyderabad: People who have side business are not 100% dedicated to work and harassment. Chennai: Revealing client information to competitors and Boss having an affair with the junior and treating others unfairly.
On the one hand there is the law, which deals with crime and punishment. On the other there is religion, which deals with virtue and sin. Organizational ethics sits in between -it goes well beyond the law, and links to the personal beliefs of employees, but its focus is the corporation or association or government department. Such groups of people must work together to achieve common goals, while also striving to do the right thing in a complex, diverse world. What ethics actually does is to help management and employees recognize moral dilemmas in decision-making, and provide ways for these to be discussed and resolved. I also try to strengthen common understanding of ethical norms that apply to modern corporate life. Organizational ethics actually deals much more with creating and maintaining a healthy corporate culture than with exploring philosophical ethics applied to business. Organizational values often include such traditional virtues as trust, loyalty and commitment, honesty and respect for one another, and avoiding conflicts of interest. Values may also include newer elements such as innovation, teamwork, customer focus and continuous improvement. As more and more women are going out to work, they face an increasing risk of being subjected to some sort of sexual harassment.
Guiding principles set standards for the organization that go beyond the law in such areas as:
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professionalism, accountability, avoidance of harassment and discrimination, occupational health and safety, truth in advertising, environmental protection, external communications to shareholders, clients and the public, the balance between transparency and openness on the one hand and confidentiality on the other, community relations, lobbying, political activity, responsible business practice (prohibitions on bribery, gifts, nepotism, selfdealing), and even business goals (such as becoming market leader).
• • • •
Successful codes are embedded in larger ethics programs designed to make sure that everyone in the organization knows the values and principles and how to apply them to their work. Communications programs might include a video for all employees, featuring a personal promise to uphold certain values by the head of the organization, and frank presentation of current issues by a cross-section of staff. Training programs are of various sorts: integrated with other training or separate, selfstudy or group work. A famous training program includes a game that brings large numbers of engineers and other professionals together to solve ethical dilemmas that reflect common workplace situations.
Another piece of most ethics programs is an ethics advisory service, to give employees impartial, confidential help. The advice might come on a hot-line from the corporate ombudsman, or from an ethics counsellor or commissioner. Generally it should not come from the company lawyer or staff relations officer. An ethics program expands the effect of a code, but the question remains, is the code really just warm words? There is no definitive answer. With constant attention to ethical decision-making, ethics programs can act as preventive medicine, to avoid crises, and to help resolve crises when they occur. However, you cannot create an ethics program in the middle of a crisis in order to solve the problem -- no one would accept your good faith without further proof. Sexual harassment at the workplace is not a new thing. Sixty per cent of working women have faced sexual harassment at some point of time in their working lives. For every woman who raises an outcry, there are hundreds of others who suffer in silence, quit their jobs or get transfers. For years, sexual harassment was considered an inescapable part of a working woman's life. Now awareness is slowly rising that no woman should meekly accept sexual harassment as part of her lot.
SEX, LIES AND MALICE AT THE WORKPLACE
“The courts assume that the workplace is asexual. People don't talk about, look at or think about sex when they come to work. This may not be an accurate assumption, but it underlies this requirement. Since the workplace is not supposed to be sexual, all sexual behavior is presumed unwelcome.”
Rita Risser, Managing Within The Law
With the exception of the stray, headline-grabbing account of sexual harassment, the impregnable silence engulfing sexism and harassment in the workplace is yet to be breached. The deliberate silencing at the behest of our social structures and organisational might is oft confused with absence till a rare reported incident debunks the egalitarian, equitous workplace myth, leading one to acknowledge what every professional knew but dare not admit - women may have fought stereotypical roles of homemakers to enter the workplace but organisational structures are still configured to view women through the prism of gendered identities.
Sexual harassment at the workplace, underscoring powerlessness of women, is a manifestation of the insidious operation of patriarchal power that (en)codes women in dominant, social stereotypes. Working women have faced hostility in countless subtle and direct ways ranging from condescending attitudes, hostile men's leagues in organisations, unequal pay, delayed promotions, sly remarks on plight of spouses of working women, less than humorous remarks on women's appearance, flirtatious glances, direct request for sexual favours. The social stigma against the victim and the prolonged litigation process for justice thwarts most women from raising their voice.
WHAT IS SEXUAL HARASSMENT?
Sexual harassment is described as harassment in subtle ways, which may include sexual innuendoes, inappropriate sexual gestures and propositions for dates or sexual favours. In more blatant forms, such harassment may include leering, pinching, grabbing, hugging, patting, brushing against and touching. The Supreme Court's guidelines describe physical
contact or advances; demand or request for sexual favours; sexually coloured remarks and showing pornography as offensive conduct. Sexual harassment becomes even more serious when the granting of sexual favours is made a term or condition of the individual's employment, when it interferes with the individual's work performance or it creates an intimidating or hostile work environment. The offensive conduct could be exhibited by a superior, a colleague, a subordinate or a client. “Sexual harassment is unwelcome attention of a sexual nature and is a form of legal and social harassment. It includes a range of behavior from seemingly mild transgressions and annoyances to actual sexual abuse or sexual assault.” (Dziech et al 1990, Boland 2002) Sexual harassment is considered a form of illegal discrimination in many countries, and is a form of abuse (sexual and psychological) and bullying. The term sexual harassment began coming to public attention in the 1970s, starting at a "Speak Out" in 1975 in Ithaca New York, USA. For many businesses, preventing sexual harassment, and defending its managerial employees from sexual harassment charges, have become key goals of legal decision-making. In contrast, many scholars complain that sexual harassment in education remains a "forgotten secret," with educators and administrators refusing to admit the problem existed in their schools, or accept their legal and ethical responsibilities to deal with it. Sexual harassment can occur in a variety of circumstances. Often, but not always, the harasser is in a position of power or authority over the victim (due to differences in age, or social, political, educational or employment relationships). Forms of harassment relationships include:
The harasser can be anyone, such as a client, a co-worker, a teacher or professor, a student, a friend, or a stranger.
The victim does not have to be the person directly harassed but can be anyone who finds the behavior offensive and is affected by it.
While adverse effects on the victim are common, this does not have to be the case for the behavior to be unlawful.
• • •
The victim can be male or female. The harasser can be male or female. The harasser does not have to be of the opposite sex. The harasser may be completely unaware that his or her behavior is offensive or constitutes sexual harassment or may be completely unaware that his or her actions could be unlawful.
One of the difficulties in understanding sexual harassment is that it involves a range of behavior, and is often difficult for the recipient to describe to themselves, and to others, exactly what they are experiencing. Moreover, behavior and motives vary between individual harassers.
Dzeich has divided harassers into two broad classes: public and private. Public harassers are flagrant in their seductive or sexist attitudes towards colleagues, subordinates, students, etc. Private harassers carefully cultivate a restrained and respectable image on the surface, but when alone with their target, their demeanor changes completely. Langelan describes three different classes of harassers. First there is the predatory harasser who gets sexual thrills from humiliating others. This harasser may become involved in sexual extortion, and may frequently harass just to see how targets respond-those who don't resist may even become targets for rape. Next, there is the dominance harasser, the most common type, who engages in harassing behaviour as an ego boost. Third are strategic or territorial harassers, who seek to maintain privilege in jobs or physical locations, for example a man's harassing female employees in a predominantly male occupation.
TYPES OF HARASSMENT There is usually more than one type of harassing behavior present, so a single harasser will often fit more than one category. These are brief summations of each type: 1. Power-player Legally termed "quid pro quo" harassment, these harassers insist on sexual favors in exchange for benefits they can dispense because of their positions in hierarchies: getting or keeping a job, favorable grades, recommendations, credentials, projects, promotion, orders, and other types of opportunities. 2. Mother/Father Figure (a.k.a. The Counselor-Helper) These harassers will try to create mentor-like relationships with their targets, all the while masking their sexual intentions with pretenses towards personal, professional, or academic attention. This is a common method of teachers who sexually harass students. 3. One-of-the-Gang Often motivated by bravado or competition, or because the harasser(s) think it is funny. One-of-the-gang harassment occurs when groups of men or women embarrass others with lewd comments, physical evaluations, or other unwanted sexual attention. Harassers may act individually in order to belong or impress the others, or groups may gang up on a particular target. An extreme example is Tailhook '91 during which participants sexually abused seven men and 83 women as part of a three-day aviator convention. 4. Third Party sexual harassment describes sexual harassment of employees or peers who are not themselves the target of the harassment; this includes groping. Third-party sexual harassment may be either quid pro quo or hostile environment. 5. Serial Harasser Harassers of this type carefully build up an image so that people would find it hard to believe they would do anyone any harm. They plan their approaches carefully, and strike in private so that it is their word against that of their victims. 6. Groper Whenever the opportunity presents itself, these harassers' eyes and hands begin to wander--in the elevator, when working late, at the office or department party. They like to insist on (usually begrudged) kisses or hugs and sometimes grabs the buttocks or the 15
woman's breasts or the man's penis. Called chikan when perpetrated by a male and chijo when perpetrated by a female in Japan, the problem is so pervasive there that men are increasingly being banned altogether from stores, restaurants, hotels, spas and even entertainment outlets, and women-only train cars have been created. 7. Opportunist Opportunist use physical settings and circumstances, or infrequently occurring opportunities, to mask premeditated or intentional sexual behavior towards targets. This will often involve changing the environment in order to minimize inhibitory effects of the workplace or school (e.g private meetings, one-on-one "instruction," field trips, conferences) 8. Bully In this case, sexual harassment is used to punish the victim for some transgression, such as rejection of the harasser's interest or advances, or making the harasser feel insecure about himself or herself or his or her abilities. The bully uses sexual harassment to put the victim in his or her "proper place." 9. Confidante Harassers of this type approach subordinates, or students, as equals or friends, sharing about their own life experiences and difficulties, inventing stories to win admiration and sympathy, and inviting subordinates to share theirs so as to make them feel valued and trusted. Soon these relationships move into an intimate domain from which the subordinates find it difficult to separate. 10. Situational Harasser Harassing behavior begins when the perpetrator endures a traumatic event, or begins to experience very stressful life situations, such as psychological or medical problems, marital problems, or divorce. The harassment will usually stop if the situation changes or the pressures are removed. 11. Pest This is the stereotypical "won't take 'no' for an answer" harasser who persists in hounding a target for attention and dates even after persistent rejections. This behavior is usually misguided, with no malicious intent. 12. Great Gallant This mostly verbal harassment involves excessive compliments and personal comments that focus on appearance and gender, and are out of place or
embarrassing to the recipient. Such comments are sometimes accompanied by leering looks. The "wolf whistles" of a street harasser are one example of this. 13. Intellectual Seducer Most often found in educational settings, these harassers will try to use their knowledge and skills as an avenue to gain access to students, or information about students, for sexual purposes. They may require students participate in exercises or "studies" that reveal information about their sexual experiences, preferences, and habits. They may use their skills, knowledge, and course content to impress students as an avenue to harassing or seducing a student. 14. Incompetent These are socially inept individuals who desire the attentions of their targets, who do not reciprocate these feelings. They may display a sense of entitlement, believing their targets should feel flattered by their attentions. When rejected, this type of harasser may use bullying methods as a form of revenge. 15. Unintentional Acts or comments of a sexual nature, not intended to harass, but is perceived by the "harrasee" as such. Talking about sex when a person feels uncomfortable about it may be called sexual harassment. 16. Stalking can also be a method of sexual harassment.
Retaliation and backlash
Retaliation and backlash against a victim are very common, particularly a complainant. Victims who speak out against sexual harassment are often labeled troublemakers who are on their own power trips, or who are looking for attention. Similar to cases of rape or sexual assault, the victim often becomes the accused, with their appearance, private life, and character likely to fall under intrusive scrutiny and attack. They risk hostility and isolation from colleagues, supervisors, teachers, fellow students, and even friends. They may become the targets of mobbing or relational aggression. Women are not necessarily sympathetic to female complainants who have been sexually harassed. If the harasser was male, internalized sexism, and/or jealousy over the sexual
attention towards the victim, may encourage some women to react with as much hostility towards the complainant as some male colleagues. Fear of being targeted for harassment or retaliation themselves may also cause some women to respond with hostility. For example, when Lois Jenson filed her lawsuit against Eveleth Taconite Co., the women placed a hangman's noose above her workplace, and shunned her both at work and in the community--many of these women later joined her suit. Women may even project hostility onto the victim in order to bond with their male coworkers and build trust. Retaliation has occurred when a sexual harassment victim suffers a negative action as a result of the harassment. For example, a complainant be given poor evaluations or low grades, have their projects sabotaged, be denied work or academic opportunities, have their work hours cut back, and other actions against them which undermine their productivity, or their ability to advance at work or school. They may be suspended, asked to resign, or be fired from their jobs altogether. Moreover, a professor or employer accused of sexual harassment, or who is the colleague of a perpetrator, can use their power to see that a victim is never hired again, or never accepted to another school. Retaliation can even involve further sexual harassment, and also stalking and cyberstalking of the victim. Of the women who have approached her to share their own experiences of being sexually harassed by their teachers, feminist and writer Naomi Wolf writes, "I am ashamed of what I tell them: that they should indeed worry about making an accusation because what they fear is likely to come true. Not one of the women I have heard from had an outcome that was not worse for her than silence. One, I recall, was drummed out of the school by peer pressure. Many faced bureaucratic stonewalling. Some women said they lost their academic status as golden girls overnight; grants dried up, letters of recommendation were no longer forthcoming. No one was met with a coherent process that was not weighted against them. Usually, the key decision-makers in the college or university—especially if it was a private university—joined forces to, in effect, collude with the faculty member accused; to protect not him necessarily but the reputation
of the university, and to keep information from surfacing in a way that could protect other women. The goal seemed to be not to provide a balanced forum, but damage control."
Effects of sexual harassment and the (often) accompanying retaliation:
Effects of sexual harassment can vary depending on the individual, and the severity and duration of the harassment. Often, sexual harassment incidents fall into the category of the "merely annoying." However, many situations can, and do, have life-altering effects particularly when they involve severe/chronic abuses, and/or retaliation against a victim who does not submit to the harassment, or who complains about it openly. Indeed, psychologists and social workers report that severe/chronic sexual harassment can have the same psychological effects as rape or sexual assault. (Koss, 1987) For example, in 1995, Judith Coflin committed suicide after chronic sexual harassment by her bosses and coworkers. (Her family was later awarded 6 million dollars in punitive and compensatory damages.) Backlash and victim-blaming can further aggravate the effects. Moreover, every year, sexual harassment costs hundreds of millions of dollars in lost educational and professional opportunities, mostly for girls and women.
Common effects on the victims
Common professional, academic, financial, and social effects of sexual harassment:
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Decreased work or school performance; increased absenteeism Loss of job or career, loss of income Having to drop courses, change academic plans, or leave school (loss of tuition) Having one's personal life offered up for public scrutiny -- the victim becomes the "accused," and his or her dress, lifestyle, and private life will often come under attack. (Note: this rarely occurs for the perpetrator.)
Being objectified and humiliated by scrutiny and gossip
Becoming publicly sexualized (i.e. groups of people "evaluate" the victim to establish if he or she is "worth" the sexual attention or the risk to the harasser's career)
• • •
Defamation of character and reputation Loss of trust in environments similar to where the harassment occurred Loss of trust in the types of people that occupy similar positions as the harasser or his or her colleagues Extreme stress upon relationships with significant others, sometimes resulting in divorce; extreme stress on peer relationships, or relationships with colleagues Weakening of support network, or being ostracized from professional or academic circles (friends, colleagues, or family may distance themselves from the victim, or shun him or her altogether)
Having to relocate to another city, another job, or another school Loss of references/recommendations
Some of the psychological and health effects that can occur in someone who has been sexually harassed: depression, anxiety and/or panic attacks, sleeplessness and/or nightmares, shame and guilt, difficulty concentrating, headaches, fatigue or loss of motivation, stomach problems, eating disorders (weight loss or gain), alcoholism, feeling betrayed and/or violated, feeling angry or violent towards the perpetrator, feeling powerless or out of control, increased blood pressure, loss of confidence and self esteem, withdrawal and isolation, overall loss of trust in people, traumatic stress, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), complex post-traumatic stress disorder, suicidal thoughts or attempts, suicide.
Effects of sexual harassment on organizations
• • •
Decreased productivity and increased team conflict Decrease in success at meeting financial goals (because of team conflict) Decreased job satisfaction
Loss of staff and expertise from resignations to avoid harassment or resignations/firings of alleged harassers; loss of students who leave school to avoid harassment
Decreased productivity and/or increased absenteeism by staff or students experiencing harassment Increased health care costs and sick pay costs because of the health consequences of harassment The knowledge that harassment is permitted can undermine ethical standards and discipline in the organization in general, as staff and/or students lose respect for, and trust in, their seniors who indulge in, or turn a blind eye to, sexual harassment
If the problem is ignored, a company's or school's image can suffer Legal costs if the problem is ignored and complainants take the issue to court.
SEXUAL HARASSMENT: THE INDIAN SCENARIO
According to the official statistics of 1991, in India, one woman is molested every 26 minutes. These statistics refer to the reported cases. Whereas, if the unreported cases were to be included, it would be a matter of seconds- rather than minutes. investigation of Most cases are not reported by victims because of various reasons such as family pressures, the manner of the police, the unreasonably long and unjust process and application of law; and the resulting consequences thereof. In instances where women have reported such illegal and unwelcome behavior, there have been significant victories in the past decade or so. Also considering the fact the sometimes these victories are achieved after a wait of a decade or so. • In Rupan Deol Bajaj Vs. K PS.Gill, a senior IAS officer, Rupan Bajaj was slapped on the posterior by the then Chief of Police, Punjab- Mr. K P S.Gill at a dinner party in July 1988. Rupan Bajaj filed a suit against him, despite the public opinion that she was blowing it out of proportion, along with the attempts by all the senior officials of the state to suppress the matter.The Supreme Court in January, 1998 fined Mr.K P S.Gill Rs.2.5 lacs in lieu of three months Rigorous Imprisonment under Sections. 294 and 509 of the Indian Penal Code. • In N Radhabai Vs. D. Ramchandran, when Radhabai, Secretary to D Ramchandran, the then social minister for state protested against his abuse of girls in the welfare institutions, he attempted to molest her, which was followed by her dismissal. The Supreme Court in 1995 passed the judgment in her favour, with back pay and perks from the date of dismissal. Sexual Harassment affects all women in some form or the other. Lewd remarks, touching, wolf-whistles, looks are part of any woman’s life, so much so that it is dismissed as normal. Working women are no exception. In fact, working women most commonly face the backlash to women taking new roles, which belong to male domains within patriarchy. Sexual Harassment at work is an extension of violence in everyday life and is discriminatory, exploitative, thriving in atmosphere of threat, terror and reprisal.
Sexual harassment is all about expression of male power over women that sustain patriarchal relations. It is used to remind women of their vulnerability and subjugated status. In a society where violence against women, both subtle and direct, is borne out of the patriarchal values operating in society, force women’s conformity to gendered roles. These patriarchal values and attitudes of both men and women pose the greatest challenge in resolution and prevention of sexual harassment. Studies find that sexual harassment is still endemic, often hidden, and present in all kinds of organisations. Yet it is still not always viewed as a problem, which has to be systematically tackled. The issue is of concern for both women and the employers as studies show that sexual harassment touches lives of nearly 40-60% of working women. Thus, combating sexual harassment involves developing understanding of what is sexual harassment and change of attitudes in all- be it employees, colleagues, friends, administrators, employers or the law makers. Sexual Harassment: The Law Sexual harassment has been recognised as most intimidating, most violating form of violence since long in countries like UK, USA and many countries have not only taken note of how degrading experiences of sexual harassment can be for women as well as employers but have adapted legislative measures to combat sexual harassment. In India, it has been only eleven years since sexual harassment was for the first time recognised by The Supreme Court as human rights violation and gender based systemic discrimination that affects women’s right to Life and Livelihood. The Court defined sexual harassment very clearly as well as provided guidelines for employers to redress and prevent sexual harassment at workplace. While the Apex Court has given mandatory guidelines, known as Vishaka Guidelines, for resolution and prevention of sexual harassment enjoining employers by holding them responsible for providing safe work environment for women, the issue still remains under carpets for most women and employers.
Vishaka guidelines apply to both organized and unorganized work sectors and to all women whether working part time, on contract or in voluntary/honorary capacity. The guidelines are a broad framework which put a lot of emphasis on prevention and within which all appropriate preventive measures can be adapted. One very important preventive measure is to adopt a sexual harassment policy, which expressly prohibits sexual harassment at work place and provides effective grievance procedure, which has provisions clearly laid down for prevention and for training the personnel at all levels of employment. What Is Sexual Harassment? According to The Supreme Court definition, sexual harassment is any unwelcome sexually determined behaviour, such as:• • • • •
Physical contact A demand or request for sexual favours Sexually coloured remarks Showing pornography Any other physical, verbal or non-verbal conduct of a sexual nature.
Sexual Harassment takes place if a person: · subjects another person to an unwelcome act of physical intimacy, like grabbing, brushing, touching, pinching etc. · makes an unwelcome demand or request (whether directly or by implication) for sexual favours from another person, and further makes it a condition for employment/payment of wages/increment/promotion etc. · makes an unwelcome remark with sexual connotations, like sexually explicit compliments/cracking loud jokes with sexual connotations/ making sexist remarks etc. · shows a person any sexually explicit visual material, in the form of pictures/cartoons/pin-ups/calendars/screen savers on computers/any offensive written material/pornographic e-mails, etc.
· engages in any other unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature, which could be verbal, or even non-verbal, like staring to make the other person uncomfortable, making offensive gestures, kissing sounds, etc. It is sexual harassment if a supervisor requests sexual favours from a junior in return for promotion or other benefits or threatens to sack for non-cooperation. It is also sexual harassment for a boss to make intrusive inquiries into the private lives of employees, or persistently ask them out. It is sexual harassment for a group of workers to joke and snigger amongst themselves about sexual conduct in an attempt to humiliate or embarrass another person. HOW DID THE VISHAKHA GUIDELINES COME ABOUT?
She may be a Dalit, hailing from a poor, potter's family, but in the last decade, Bhanwari Devi has become a torchbearer for the women's movement in the country. Though everyone remembers the name, few know that even 16 years after she was gangraped by upper-caste villagers for attempting to stop a child marriage in her village, Bhateri, about 45 km from Jaipur, this "icon" still hasn't got justice. In 1992, as a sathin working for the women's development programme of the Rajasthan government, 41-year-old Bhanwari tried to persuade a Gujjar family not to get their oneyear- old daughter married. The police, too, stepped in and prevented the marriage. However, the child marriage took place the next day any way, and after that the village ordered a socio-economic boycott of Bhanwari's family, holding her responsible for the 25
police intervention. She was even asked to leave the village, but she refused. On September 22, 1992, five upper-caste men raped Bhanwari in the presence of her husband. The rape was widely seen as a punishment for her defiance and because she had challenged accepted cultural norms. The police initially refused to record her statement. Past midnight that day, they asked her to leave her skirt behind as evidence and return to her village. She did, wearing her husband's dhoti. For her medical examination, she went to Jaipur, but there too, the medical report did not confirm rape, only her age. Initial police investigations held her rape allegations as false they said she was too old and unattractive to be raped by young men. But pressure from women's groups and civil rights organisations forced the government to ask for a probe by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), which found all the allegations made by Bhanwari to be true Bhanwari Devi's case provoked women's organisations to file a petition in the Supreme Court, asking it to give directions regarding sexual harassment at the workplace. The apex court judgment, which came on August 13, 1997, gave the Vishaka guidelines that hold employers responsible for providing safe work environment for women.
Bhanwari's case was a pioneering one for the anti-rape movement. It brought about a change even in the system of accountability of the police. She is the reason why thousands of working woman in India are shielded by anti- sexual harassment laws. Many women have gained from Bhanwari Devi's struggle, but sadly not her. The Bhanwari Devi case revealed the hazards to which a working woman is exposed and the depravity to which sexual harassment can stoop.
SEXUAL HARASSMENT: PREVENTION AND RESOLUTION
Combating Attitudes Patriarchal attitudes and values are the biggest challenge in implementation of any law concerning women in our society. Combating these attitudes of men and women and the personnel involved /responsible for implementation of laws and systems is most crucial in prevention of unwanted sexual behaviour. Preventing and avoiding sexual harassment involves all levels of employees/persons in any oganisation-employees and colleagues, management and bodies like trade unions. Most importantly it requires for the employer to act before a problem occurs. Steps Employers Can Take to Prevent Sexual Harassment A policy / procedure designed to deal with complaints of sexual harassment should be regarded as only one component of a strategy to deal with the problem. The prime objective should be to change behaviour and attitudes, to seek to ensure the prevention of sexual harassment. As an employer know the following: I] First and foremost, acknowledge that it is your legal responsibility to provide safe working environment for women free from sexual harassment and discrimination and that you can be held liable for sexual harassment by employees.
II] Know that sexual harassment can have a devastating effect upon the health, confidence, morale and performance of those affected by it. The anxiety and stress produced by sexual harassment commonly leads to those subjected to it taking time off work due to sickness, being less efficient at work, or leaving their job to seek work elsewhere. III] Understand the reasons why women remain silent about sexual harassment. An absence of complaints about sexual harassment does not necessarily mean an absence of sexual harassment. It may mean that the recipients of sexual harassment think that there is no point in complaining because: - nothing will be done about it; - it will be trivialised; - the complainant will be subjected to ridicule, or - they fear reprisals. IV] Recognise the tangible and intangible expenses and losses organisations experience: - Costly investigation and litigation - Negative exposure and publicity - Embarrassing depositions - Increased absenteeism - Lowered employee morale - Reduced productivity - Decreased efficiency - Higher employee turn over - Erosion of organisation’s brand names, goodwill, and public image - Negative impact on stock price The best way to prevent sexual harassment is to adopt a comprehensive sexual harassment policy. The aim is to ensure that sexual harassment does not occur and, where it does occur, to ensure that adequate procedures are readily available to deal with the problem and prevent its recurrence.
SEXUAL HARASSMENT POLICY I] Adopting Sexual Harassment Policy: What should be included in an anti-harassment policy? A basic policy should set forth the following:
an express commitment to eradicate and prevent sexual harassment and express prohibition of sexual harassment; a definition of sexual harassment including both quid pro quo and hostile work environment giving examples; an explanation of penalties (including termination) the employer will impose for substantiated sexual harassment conduct; a detailed outline of the grievance procedure employees should use; a clear statement that anyone found guilty of harassment after investigation will be subject to immediate and appropriate disciplinary action a clear understanding and strict rules regarding harassment of or by third parties like clients, customers etc. additional resource or contact persons available for support and consultation; an express commitment to keep all sexual harassment complaints and procedures confidential and time bound; provisions for training of employees at all levels. an anti retaliation policy providing protection against retaliation to complainants, witnesses, Complaints Committee members and other employees involved in prevention and complaints resolution.
Policies and procedures should be adopted after consultation or negotiation with employee representatives. Experience suggests that strategies to create and maintain a working environment in which the dignity of employees is respected are most likely to be effective where they are jointly agreed. . II] Communicate Policy
Issue a strong policy from the top authority against sexual harassment taking a "zero tolerance" approach Make sure it gets out to all your employees either through the employee handbook or in memo form or with pay packets or with appointment letter. Have the employees sign it to acknowledge that they received and read the policy. The policy can also be posted in the workplace. If you have employees whose primary language is not English, have your sexual harassment policy translated or communicate to them in their primary language. Discuss the policy with all new employees Ensure that third-party such as suppliers and customers are aware of your sexual harassment policy Review the policy with your employees on a regular basis III] Enforce Policy Take complaints of sexual harassment seriously and investigate all sexual harassment charges quickly and thoroughly and professionally. Maintain accurate records of the investigation and the findings Make sure employees who bring charges do not face retaliation Ensure confidentiality and time bound response to complaints. Take immediate action when sexual harassment is discovered or suspected Discipline appropriately any employee found to have engaged in sexual harassment Safeguard your employees from third-party work-related sexual harassment COMPLAINTS CHANNEL Complaints Channels need to provide different routes that employees can take to file complaints; i.e., contacting the responsible authority for sexual harassment, a supervisor, calling a hotline, complaining through email, etc. Organisations need to focus on the plight of the average individual. A policy is useless unless people use it, and most research indicate that a small fraction of employees ever say or do anything about harassing behaviour. Informal methods of resolving complaints must be part of the complaints mechanism as 1. the objective is to end the harassing behaviour at the lowest possible (which is the most cost effective, as well) 2. many complaints can be resolved effectively and positively through informal methods. Informal options act as a buffer or filter, save bad blood, prevent the office environment getting uncomfortable for all, if employees can be advised as to how to handle the situation before it gets out of hands. Platforms to resolve 30
complaints or to stop harassing behaviour must be provided before the complaints escalate into full-blown, formal complaints. The Supreme Court guidelines impose an obligation on the employer to set up a Complaints Committee to deal with the cases of harassment. Such a committee should: *be headed by a woman *have half its members as women *include a third-party representative from an NGO or any other agency conversant with the issue of sexual harassment (to prevent undue pressure from within the organization with respect to any complaint). Complaints Committee Employers need to set up a redressal mechanism/complaints committees as per Vishaka guidelines. First contact Persons from within the Committee or otherwise should be appointed who could try to resolve the complaint informally first before the complaint goes to the formal channels of complaints committee. The organisation needs to put down clearly, certain non-negotiables for the complaints committees for effective resolution of complaints. Desired Qualities Of The Members Of Complaints Committee:
Subjectivity: A sexual act when unwelcome is sexual harassment; the unwelcome is the woman’s subjective reality. The Complaints Committee’s first job is to believe in this reality. (unless something on record completely negates her complaint).
Empathy: It is critical that the Complaints Committee empathizes with the complainant and does not judge her by their moral standards. The most important question to be answered in the affirmative that the committee and all functionaries must ask themselves while providing redress to a particular case is 'Do we believe her?'
Selection of the Complaint Committee members is extremely important as in most cases the committee members, if in sub-ordinate position of power at workplace to that of accused, find it very difficult to diligently carry out the responsibilities bestowed on them as heads or members of the Committee, against the superiors.
The Complaints Committee must remember:
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It needs extensive orientation for effective functioning. It cannot function like a criminal court. The complainant, when she complains, has at stake her personal life and career. The impact sexual harassment has on a woman It is difficult for a woman to talk about anything sexual. Hence there can be long time interval between the harassment and the actual complaint. It needs to handle complaints in a confidential manner and within a time-bound framework It needs to submit an annual report on sexual harassment to the appropriate government authority.
Complaints committees: Do's and Don’ts: Do's
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Formalise and publicise complaint procedures that are easy and non-threatening. Provide safety for friends and supporters of the complainant. Appoint complaints officers-one man and one woman- to serve as the first point of contact. Complaint officers should be members of the committee. One of them should be the outside expert. Authorise Complaint Officers to resolve the issue without the committee’s intervention. If unresolved to the complainant’s satisfaction, the complaint should go to the committee.
Use a cheerful, comfortable, airy room for meeting the complainant. Ensure that your body language communicates complete attention to the complainant and the accused. Treat the complainant with respect. Discard pre-determined notions of how a victim or accused should look or behave. Beware of stereotypes.
All sexual crimes are committed in private, so that there may not be any eyewitnesses. This is an important point that the committee would do well to remember at all the times.
Consult the complainant for punitive action. If the management does not accept the recommended action, it should give three valid reasons. Help the complainant regain his/her self-respect.
Do not, under any circumstance, get aggressive. Do not insist on a detailed description of harassment. This could increase the complainant’s trauma. Do not allow for interruptions when talking to the complainant and/or accused. Do not try and determine the impact of the harassment on the complainant. Let the complainant determine it. Help the complainant, if necessary. Do not discuss the complaint among the presence of the complainant or the accused. Remember, this is a human rights issue, therefore, (a) do not give too much weight to intention, focus on the impact, and (b) 'proof beyond reasonable doubt' is not required, a strong probability is sufficient.
Other things the Complaints Committee need to do
Encourage the woman to note details of each incident of harassment and monitor any changes in work patterns or attitude on the part of the alleged harasser so as to avoid as far as possible attempts at victimisation or accusations of poor work performance, etc.
Make discreet enquiries as to whether other workers have experienced similar problems and if so, ask them details of any harassment, which has occurred. If the problem should involve transfer of one of the people involved, try to ensure that the harasser-rather than the victim- is the person required to move.
Always document the results of any sexual harassment complaint or investigation. Not only document the results, but also document any corrective action that you asked the employee or supervisor to take. Follow up on any corrective action so you can document if the employee fails to take advantage of your companies polices/procedures or any corrective action that your company takes to prevent the sexual harassment from occurring again in the future.
Inform all employees that it is their obligation to report sexual harassment that they either experience or witness.
TRAINING Take your employees with you. Educate them about the issue and promote a healthy discussion of the policy. Sexual Harassment Awareness Training The setting up of a complaints committee and an anti-sexual harassment policy lays a strong foundation for a sexual harassment free workplace. However, effective training programmes are essential to sensitise/train all their staff members, men and women, to recognise sexual harassment, deal with it when it occurs and prevent it. The training programme is the best way to ensure proper understanding and implementation of your policy. It is the best forum to communicate to employees what behaviour is acceptable and what is not, in a non-threatening atmosphere of mutual learning. Training for the members of the Complaints Committee and others who are going to be instrumental in implementing the policy, is very essential. Their training should include a component of gender sensitization, along with the procedures for taking complaints, and for enquiry, etc. Conduct yearly meetings with your supervisors to review the sexual harassment policy, and to make sure that they understand that an employee does not need to suffer negative consequences in order to make a complaint of sexual harassment. Inform the supervisors that even mild to moderate sexual jokes or statements can create an atmosphere of
hostility that will make some employees uncomfortable, and could lead to the creation of a hostile work environment. Sexual harassment training for all employees should address perceptions and understanding of sexual harassment, impact of sexual harassment on individuals and workplace, understanding the policy and complaints mechanism. The training for Complaints Committee should address, in addition to these, the procedures of investigation, skills necessary for enquiries, documenting the procedures. SENSING MECHANISMS: Setting up a mechanism does not mean that there is sexual harassment in your workplace. Prevention is always better than cure, and being pro-active always helps. Along with performance, change in employees' behaviour patterns also deserves employer's close scrutiny. Conducting Surveys - Conducting time-to-time surveys is helpful to identify and prevent factors/situation leading to incidence of sexual harassment. The survey can be done anonymously and should be distributed with a copy of the company's sexual harassment policy. The survey can simply ask the employees (male and female) if they have experienced any form of sexual harassment during the past year. The survey also helps to show that the organisation is actively engaged in preventing and correcting sexual harassment. COMMITMENT FROM TOP: Commitment is shown through enforcement and action by the responsible authorities. Even the most comprehensive sexual harassment policies and procedures are bound to fail if a company does not enforce them quickly, consistently, and aggressively. To be effective, organisations must take sexual harassment seriously. They need to make certain that personnel responsible for enforcement conduct prompt, thorough, and documented investigations of all complaints, even those that appear trivial. Organisations should take action that is reasonably calculated to end the harassment. Such action must be directed
toward the harasser, and may include verbal warnings, written warnings, job transfers, suspension of employment, and, if necessary, termination. Employers should also keep tabs on their supervisors. This can be accomplished by means of monthly meetings with higher management, unscheduled spot checks, or periodic sexual harassment training sessions with the implementing authorities. PRACTICES CONSISTENT WITH POLICIES: Organisations must place just as much emphasis on reporting responsibilities and mechanisms as on the policy itself. Setting a precedence - Even if the accused is a senior executive/ a partner/any other person who is an asset to the company, and brings in a lot of business, it is essential that he be punished if found guilty, as this sends out a strong message that the company will not tolerate any harassment by anyone. . What Steps Can Employees Take To Prevent Sexual Harassment? Most women themselves fail to recognise sexual harassment and treat it as trivial and routine. Such has been the internal coping mechanism. Ignoring offensive behaviour or denying its existence are the most common ways women deal with sexual harassment. In Back Off! How To Confront and Stop Sexual Harassment and Harassers, Martha Langelan recommends taking these steps:. Dealing with the Harasser upfront:
Do the unexpected: Name the behaviour. Whatever he's just done, say it, and be specific. Hold the harasser accountable for his actions. Don't make excuses for him; don't pretend it didn't really happen. Take charge of the encounter and let people know what he did. Privacy protects harassers, but visibility undermines them.
Make honest, direct statements. Speak the truth (no threats, no insults, no obscenities, no appeasing verbal fluff and padding). Be serious, straightforward, and blunt.
Demand that the harassment stop. Make it clear that all women have the right to be free from sexual harassment. Objecting to harassment is a matter of principle. Stick to your own agenda. Don't respond to the harasser's excuses or diversionary tactics. His behaviour is the issue. Say what you have to say, and repeat it if he persists. Reinforce your statements with strong, self-respecting body language: eye contact, head up, shoulders back, a strong, serious stance. Don't smile. Timid, submissive body language will undermine your message.
Respond at the appropriate level. Use a combined verbal and physical response to physical harassment. End the interaction on your own terms, with a strong closing statement: 'You heard me. Stop harassing women'.
Other steps employees can take: Speaking out: Speaking about sexual harassment is an effective tool in combating it. While speaking about it, the problem becomes visible, it is acknowledged that it exists, and this in turn leads one to take effective measures against it. Speaking about sexual harassment also gives an opportunity to clarify by this about it. It helps in changing attitudes of people towards this issue. Speaking about it creates an enabling environment for the victim to speak out. It mobilises public opinion against it. It makes it difficult for a potential harasser to commit the crime. It equips people with information as to what is to be done in such a case. Speak up at the time: Be sure to say "NO" clearly, firmly and without smiling as that is the best way to let the harasser know that his behaviour is offensive. Objecting to the behaviour when it occurs helps if you decide to file charges later.
Keep records: Keep track of what happens in a journal or diary and keep any letters or notes or other documents you receive. Write down the dates, times, places, and an account of what happened. Write down the names of any witnesses. Write a letter. People have successfully stopped sexual harassment by writing a letter detailing the behaviour that is offensive and asking the person who is harassing them to stop the behaviour. The letter should be polite, unemotional, and detailed. Such a letter seems to be more powerful than a verbal request. The recipient of the letter seldom writes back; the person usually just stops the behaviour. Set your own boundaries: Say "NO" emphatically and clearly when you are asked to go places, do things, respond to questions, or engage in situations that make you uncomfortable. Do not worry about offending the other person or hurting his or her ego. Take care of yourself first. Be aware of situations and people who may harm you: Don't ignore other's warnings about particular people or social settings. Acknowledge their concern for you and for themselves. Trust your own instincts about possible danger: In an uncomfortable situation, be direct and honest, and remove yourself from the situation immediately. Regardless of your previous behaviour or signals you may have given earlier, you have the absolute right to halt any sexual exchange at any time. Accept this right and act on it. Tell someone: Being quiet or stoic about sexual harassment lets it continue. Talk to other co-workers; you may not be the only one harassed by this person. Do not blame yourself and do not delay. Create a Witness to the behaviour: Inform a trusted colleague and try to insure that s/he is an eye or ear witness to an situation where you are being sexually harassed. This will be useful later if you chose to file a formal complaint. Send a copy of sexual harassment policy / rules to the harasser. If your workplace already has an anti sexual harassment policy or the conduct rules of your institution prohibit sexual harassment, send a copy of
the institution policy/conduct rules to the harasser with the appropriate sections underlined. Talk to a union: If you are a member of a labour union, talk to your union representative. Get a medical check-up: If you have been raped or physically assaulted, go for a medical check-up. Obtain a medical report. This is important, should you decide to pursue a legal case. Report sexual harassment to the appropriate person in the organization: Explore the different avenues available to you and file a formal complaint if necessary. If your organisation does not have a policy, ensure that your employer formulates an anti-sexual harassment policy and carries out all the connected tasks. Documenting Harassment Documenting the harassment is important for use as evidence in a case or complaint. You should: Photograph or keep copies of any offensive material at the workplace. Keep a journal with detailed information on instances of sexual harassment. Note the dates, conversation, frequency of offensive encounters, etc. Obtain copies of your work records (including performance evaluations) and keep these copies at home Other documents that you should have: A company policy and procedure manual is very important to have. The company's documented policies on sexual harassment, discrimination, performance appraisals, termination, affirmative action plans can be very important to show their stated policies versus their actions. Company newspapers, annual reports, pictures of its top executives, posters, company credo, company surveys are important to show the environment and its hostility towards women. Take all letters of commendation, awards, thanks you's and anything at all that will corroborate your positive job performance. Pay special attention to documents that your superiors have provided lauding you and your work. If possible, ask your clients, staff, and peers for letters of commendation.
Every document that you use during trial must be authenticated by a witness. Keep this in mind during your depositions when the defence asks you where you obtained a document. If you are not clear about where you got the document, and who can authenticate it, you will not be able to use it during your trial. What can you do as a colleague: · Do not disbelieve a woman when she shares about harassment. Remember sexual harassment is 'unwelcome' behaviour. Do not trivialise the matter. · Remember that it is difficult to speak about sexual harassment. Hence if a colleague is talking about it, she will require a lot of encouragement and support. · Read the Vishaka judgement carefully and know your rights. · Spread the word - let your colleagues know about the issue, its prevalence and the judgement. · Support a harassed colleague - remember it could be you tomorrow. · Encourage the recipient to approach the offending person directly or use other informal resolution methods. · Offer to accompany the recipient to the offending person, the Complaints Committee to file a formal complaint. · Take responsibility to see that sexual harassment is stopped and there is no reprisal. · Approach your employer and push for a redress mechanism / sexual harassment policy, if you do not have one in place already. · If you do have a mechanism in place, ensure that it complies with the Supreme Court guidelines. · Contact a non-government organisation working on the issue to organise an awareness/training programme at your workplace/ to help create a policy for your workplace. It is important that you: · be professional at all times. · set a positive example. · consider your attitudes. 40
· avoid making assumptions. · think before making personal comments. · don't go along with the crowd. · be supportive of people who wish to talk about being sexually harassed and · direct them to the appropriate persons / authorities. As an employee: If your behaviour offends an employee, stop that behaviour. Ask yourself: · Could your behaviour offend or hurt people at your workplace? · Could your behaviour be interpreted by another as sexual harassment? · Would you like your behaviour to be discussed by others? · Would you like your friend, partner, child or sibling to be treated in the same manner? What steps can Trade Unions take to prevent sexual harassment: There are a number of measures that unions can take to combat sexual harassment. The goal is to make union members sensitive to the problem and to create a climate to discourage sexual harassment and, if it occurs, a climate where victims will feel comfortable turning to the union for assistance. Trade Unions in unorganised sector can play a definite and vital role in helping set up complaints mechanism and instituting systems/channels that could provide forum for recipients of sexual harassment in unorganised sector to complain. If you are a member of a trade union:•
If the sexual harassment victim comes to you for help, try to informally resolve the complaint by talking to the harasser. If that is ineffective, help the victim to file a complaint with the appropriate authority.
Educate the members about the issue. Include training on handling sexual harassment grievances for office bearers/seniors who are likely to get involved in complaint resolution
Determine the extent of the problem in the workplace. A survey of the members may be useful. Work with employers to conduct jointly conducted training programs. When sexual harassment does occur, offer support. Try to stop any harassment you observe, whether or not the victim has complained. If this is unsuccessful, do not do or say anything that could be interpreted as condoning the harasser's behaviour.
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Disclose information only to the extent necessary to protect the confidentiality of all who are involved. Put management on notice about what is going on. Regardless of who is harassing, management is responsible for providing a harassment-free work environment. Be sure that the employer has an anti-sexual harassment policy that is prominently posted or otherwise effectively communicated to all employees.
SEXUAL HARASSMENT: A MALE VIEWPOINT
A man was victimized of false allegation by subordinate staff. Inquiry did not prove the charges as correct as no evidence was presented. However, inquiry committee viewed that since a female cannot afford to charge wrong allegation because her own reputation is also at stake, the male is bound to be considered as wrong doer and face punishment without being proven guilty. If it is assumed that female cannot make wrong allegation then what is the use of inquiry and where will males go to seek redressal? Women are given so much credibility that a man accused is presumed guilty until proven innocent. This is violation of judicial principles as well as violation of fundamental rights of men. The law can be misused and provide powers to women to harass, victimize, and blackmail men with the help of these laws. Sexual harassment in the workplaces is a well-known issue that thousands of women encounter on a daily basis. But now there is a growing trend of men filing claims of harassment in the workplace. According to a report by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission there were a record amount of harassment complaints filed by men in 2006. The figures given in the report state that of the 12,025 sexual harassment claims made in 2006 15.4 percent of these claims came from men. This shows a significant increase of male harassment cases made in the last ten years of 4.5.
The majority of the sexual harassment cases filed by men were stating that the harassment was perpetrated by other men. Since there is not any significant increase in total number of people in employment these statistics can be looked at in two ways. Firstly on the surface it can be viewed as a worrying increase in the amount of harassment men are suffering in the work place. Secondly it may not necessarily mean that there is a real increase in harassment but more an increase in reporting sexual harassment. In the past it may not have been seen as something a man would do, that he should just grin and bear it. But now men are realising that admitting to these issues doesn't take away any of their man hood, hence more men are coming forward and filing complaints. Regardless of the real reason for the increase in sexual harassment in the workplace complaints by men the report brings to light a problem that has been brushed under the carpet for years. More and more men are committing suicide and suffering from depression and stress at the workplace. Another problem men face is treatment of women at the workplace. Giving the woman her intellectual due and treating her as an equal is necessary. Yet at the same time, any word or action could be mis-interpreted as being sexually explicit. Other form of harassment a male colleague can face is when a female threatens to charge a harassment case against him in return for favours at the work place. It puts him in a very difficult situation. This problem was highlighted in the movies namely ‘Disclosure’ and ‘Aitraaz’. According to a quote in Yahoo news, "There's no question this is not only a growing category of claims, but also a large societal problem of which we are just starting to see the tip of the iceberg.”
The workplace is an area where the employee is required to represent, carry out, perform or implement any duties, obligations or services required. While carrying out one’s duty it is imperative that each person in the organization recognizes the other’s contribution to the organization, respects the commitment to one’s work and does not engage in any activity that may outrage another’s modesty. Prevention is the best tool to eliminate sexual harassment in the workplace. Employers are encouraged to take steps necessary to prevent sexual harassment from occurring. They should clearly communicate to employees that sexual harassment will not be tolerated. They can do so by providing sexual harassment training to their employees and by establishing an effective complaint or grievance process and taking immediate and appropriate action when an employee complains.
It is also unlawful to retaliate against an individual for opposing employment practices that discriminate based on sex or for filing a discrimination charge, testifying, or participating in any way in an investigation, proceeding, or litigation The issue of sexual harassment needs understanding, assessment, sensitivity and commitment from all quarters but mostly from the senior managerial authority as their commitment and action can achieve the aim of prevention and effective resolution of sexual harassment at workplace and a gender friendly, discrimination free workplace.
Combat Law, Volume 2, Issue 3 www.wikipedia.org www.legalserviceindia.com www.hinduonnet.com www.timesofindia.com www.indiatogether.org www.domain-b.com http://pratap-nambiar.sulekha.com
• Combat Law, Vol. 4, Issue 1
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