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of a sexual nature that tends to create a hostile or offensive work environment. Sexual harassment and rape are two sides of the same coin. Both showcase the power of man to dominate that of women. Both have one victim- ‘women’. Both are barbaric in nature; but many people extenuate sexual harassment to rape, just because the victims are not physically harmed. Whereas in rape- the victim is ravished like an animal for the fulfillment of desire and lust of other man. Both have the same object- to undermine the integrity of the victim, physically as well as mentally. 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 favors 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. As Observed By Justice Arjit Pasayat: " While A Murderer Destroys The Physical Frame Of The Victim, A Rapist Degrades And Defiles The Soul Of A Helpless Female." 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. The question is not whether women have the right to bodily integrity, as this right is already adumbrated under Article.21 of the Constitution of India. Article.21, which guarantees the right to life and liberty to men and women both alike- but whether it is really imperative to take a decisive step towards extirpating this evil and make the contemporary and future society a safe haven for women. According to the official statistics of 1991, 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. Case study In Rupan Deol Bajaj Vs. K PS.Gill1, 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.
Reason for sexual harassment
Sexual harassment is, above all, a manifestation of power relations – women are much more likely to be victims of sexual harassment precisely because they more often than men lack power, are in more vulnerable and insecure positions, lack self confidence, or have been socialized to suffer in silence. In order to understand why women endure the vast majority of sexual harassment, it is important to look at some of the underlying causes of this phenomenon. Reasons behind sexual harassment at work can be varied and severely complex, and primarily to do with socialization and psychology. Personal problems can also be a factor, where harassment becomes a symptom of the effects of life traumas such as Divorce, Loneliness, Extreme Financial Problems Or Death Of A Close One. Some Deep Rooted Psychiatric Issues Like Persecution Complex, Ill Treatment By Parents Or Relatives In Childhood, And Experiences Of Physical Abuse Are Known To Cause Negative Behavior At Work.
Types of sexual harassments
Quid pro quo and hostile work environment are the two broad types of sexual harassment Quid Pro Quo Sexual Harassment Quid pro quo sexual harassment occurs when an employee is offered to be retained in his/her job or be promoted in exchange for sexual favors. In case of a student, the offer is to help receive a good grade or a favorable recommendation in exchange for sexual favors. The person who commits quid pro quo sexual harassment is a person with power to influence the victim's employment or educational situation like a supervisor, manager or a teacher in case of a student. An example would be if a manager suggests that an employee goes out with him on a date or asks for a neck or back rub every so often in exchange for retaining her post or be promoted. In this type of sexual harassment, it is not important if the victim gave in or agrees to the offer. It is enough that the harasser floats or makes the offer and the victim is not barred from filing a claim if he or she later on changes his or her mind. Hostile Environment Sexual Harassment Hostile work environment sexual harassment, on the other hand, occurs when a coworker, manager or supervisor in the work place makes unwelcome sexual advances which interferes with work performance or creates an intimidating, hostile or offensive work environment, or learning environment in the case of students. The sexual harassing conduct could be verbal, non-verbal, visual or physical. Example of a verbal harassing conduct is when one makes a sexual comment about a person's clothing, anatomy or looks. In cases of non-verbal sexually harassing conduct an example would be leering, staring or glaring at someone. Visual sexually harassing conduct on the other hand could be displaying sexually suggestive calendars, photographs, posters or cartoons in the
workplace. Physically harassing conduct is when someone gives a massage around the neck or shoulders and the victim did not ask for it and regards it as offensive. In this type of sexual harassment, even the employer is liable if he has knowledge or should have knowledge of the sexual harassment perpetrated on one of the employees and the employer either does nothing about it or even faulted the victim for the happening of the sexually harassing conduct. In both cases, it would be to the best interest of the victim to secure the services of a lawyer immediately to protect the victim's legal rights. When Does an Environment Become Sexually Hostile? To create a sexually hostile environment, unwelcome conduct based on gender must meet two additional requirements: (1) it must be subjectively abusive to the person(s) affected, and (2) it must be objectively severe or pervasive enough to create a work environment, that a reasonable person would find abusive. To determine whether behavior is severe or pervasive enough to create a hostile environment, the finder of fact (a court or jury) considers these factors:
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The frequency of the unwelcome discriminatory conduct; The severity of the conduct Whether the conduct was physically threatening or humiliating, or a mere offensive utterance; Whether the conduct unreasonably interfered with work performance; The effect on the employee’s psychological well-being; and Whether the harasser was a superior in the organization.
Each factor is relevant – no single factor is required to establish that there is a hostile environment. Relatively trivial, isolated incidents generally do not create a hostile work environment. For example, one work environment found no legal violation where a woman’s supervisor, over the course of a few months, had asked her out on dates, called her a “dumb blonde,” placed his hand on her shoulder, placed “I love you” signs in her work area, and attempted to kiss her. (Weiss s. Coca Cola Bottling Co.) Hostile environment sexual harassment also was not found where women were asked for a couple of dates by co-workers, subjected to three offensive incidents over 18 months, or subjected to only occasional teasing or isolated crude jokes or sexual remarks. Sexual harassment was found, on the other hand, where women were touched in a sexually offensive manner while in confined workspace, subjected to a long pattern of ridicule and abuse on the basis of gender, or forced to endure repeated unwelcome sexual advances. These examples simply illustrate how severe or pervasive gender-based conduct must be to be legally actionable (and how blurred the line between lawful and unlawful conduct sometimes is). Given this uncertainty, prudent employers will address incidents of unwelcome gender-based conduct long before they approach the level of severity or pervasiveness that would create a hostile environment as legal matter.
EFFECTS OF SEXUAL HARASSMENT IN INDIA
Sexual harassment in India is termed "Eve teasing" and is described as: unwelcome sexual gesture or behavior whether directly or indirectly as sexually colored remarks; physical contact and advances; showing pornography; a demand or request for sexual favours; any other unwelcome physical, verbal/non-verbal conduct being sexual in nature. The critical factor is the unwelcome ness of the behavior, thereby making the impact of such actions on the recipient more relevant rather than intent of the perpetrator. According to India's constitution, sexual harassment infringes the fundamental right of a woman to gender equality under Article 14 of the Constitution of India and her right to life and live with dignity under Article 21 of the Constitution. Although there is no specific law against sexual harassment at workplace in India but many provisions in other legislations protect against sexual harassment at workplace, such as Section 354, IPC deals with “assault or criminal force to a woman with the intent to outrage her modesty, and Section 509, IPC deals with “word, gesture or act intended to insult the modesty of a woman. 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. 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
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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.(Boland 1990
The Impact On The Workplace: Sexual harassment has been linked to decreased job satisfaction, and can lead to a loss of staff and expertise because of resignations to avoid harassment, or because of resignations or firings of alleged harassers. Every year, hundreds of millions of dollars are lost in productivity because of effects such as employee absenteeism to avoid harassment, and increased team conflict in environments where harassment is occurring. The increased team conflict also leads to problems with team cohesion and less success in meeting financial goals. The knowledge that harassment is permitted can undermine ethical standards, and discipline in the organization. Prekel writes, “…staff 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 image can suffer amongst clients, employees, potential customers, and the general public. Health care costs can increase because of the health consequences of harassment, not to mention the legal costs if a victim files a lawsuit after complaints are ignored or mishandled. The Impact In School: In educational environments where sexual harassment is occurring, the impact can be similar to that of the workplace: increased absenteeism by students to avoid harassment, increased student turnover as students leave to escape harassment; conflict amongst students when harassment is present; decreased productivity and performance, and/or decreased participation in school activities, as students must focus on, and strategize about, ways to deal with the harassment, or because of the psychological effects of harassment. The same loss of trust in the ethical standards of a company can also occur at school, leading students, staff, parents, and the
general public can lose respect for, and trust in, the institution if nothing is done to improve the situation. Only unwelcome conduct can be sexual harassment. Consensual dating, joking, and touching, for example, are not harassment if they are welcomed by the persons involved. Conduct is unwelcome if the recipient did not initiate it and regards it as offensive. Some sexual advances (“come here Babe and give me some of that”) are so crude and blatant that the advance itself shows its unwelcome ness. In a more typical case, however, the welcomeness of the conduct will depend on the recipient’s reaction to it. Outright Rejection The clearest case is when an employee tells a potential harasser that conduct is unwelcome and makes the employee uncomfortable. It is very difficult for a harasser to explain away offensive conduct by saying, “She said no, but I know that she really meant yes.” A second-best approach is for the offended employee to consistently refuse to participate in the unwelcome conduct. A woman who shakes her head “no” and walks away when asked for a date has made her response clear. Ambiguous Rejection Matters are more complicated when an offended employee fails to communicate clearly. All of us, for reasons of politeness, fear, or indecision, sometimes fail to make our true feelings known. A woman asked out for a “romantic” dinner by her boss may say, “Not tonight, I have a previous commitment” when what she really means is “no way, not ever.” The invitation is not inherently offensive, and the response leaves open to question whether the conduct was truly unwelcome. Soured Romance Sexual relationships among employees often raise difficult issues as to whether continuing sexual advances are welcome. Employees have the right to end such relationships at any time without fear of retaliation on the job, so that conduct that once was welcome is now unwelcome. However, because of the previous relationship, it is important that the unwelcomeness of further sexual advances be made very clear. What Not To Do
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Invited the alleged harasser to lunch or dinner or to parties after the supposedly offensive conduct occurred; Flirted with the alleged harasser; Wore sexually provocative clothing and used sexual mannerisms around the alleged harasser; and Participated with other in vulgar language and sexual horseplay in the workplace.
For these reasons, if you find gender-based conduct or sexually oriented conduct offensive, you should make your displeasure clearly and promptly known. Remember that some offenders may be unaware of how their actions are being perceived. Others may be insensitive to the reactions of fellow workers. Tell the harasser that the behavior is not acceptable and is unwelcomed by you. At the very least, refuse to participate in the behavior. Even if you do not find the conduct personally offensive, remember that some
of your co-workers might, and avoid behavior that is in any way demeaning on the basis of gender. In determining if your own conduct might be unwelcome, ask yourself these questions:
Would my behavior change if someone from my family was in the room? Would I want someone from my family to be treated this way?
You and your employer share a steak in maintaining a harassment-free work environment. Many organizations have written policies, distributed to all employees, that contain examples, that contain examples of prohibited conduct and describe procedures for handling complaints. These policies may forbid conduct that falls short of unlawful sexual harassment. It’s important to learn about your own employer’s policy. Retaliation against any employee who reports sexual harassment or who cooperates when the employer investigates a claim of sexual harassment is prohibited. The employer will want to conduct a prompt and thorough investigation of all complaints, and matters will be kept as confidential as possible. Employer policies typically provide that any employee found to have violated the policy will be subject to discipline, up to and including immediate discharge, and that the complaining employee will be told whether action has been taken, even if not told specifically what was done.
If You Are The One Who Is Harassed …
If you experience sexual harassment or witness it, you should make a report to the appropriate official. You do not have to report the incident to your supervisor first, especially if that is the person doing the harassing. Before you report a problem, you might want to try some self-help techniques, using the DO’s and DON’Ts listed below. If you do follow these self-help suggestions, remember that sexual harassment is an organizational problem, and the employer wants to know about it so it can take prompt and appropriate action to ensure that no further incidents occur, with the present victim or other employees, in the future. Report incidents immediately, especially if they are recurring. Employees who promptly report harassing conduct can help their organization as well as themselves. One comprehensive survey by the American Management Association reported that roughly two-thirds of internal reports result in some kind of discipline being imposed on the alleged harasser, with even more internal reports resulting in either discipline or counseling. All employees have a responsibility to cooperate fully with the investigation of a sexual harassment complaint. Investigations will vary from case to case, depending on a variety of circumstances. While not very investigation will follow the same format, in every case you need to keep certain things in mind. Keep It Confidential First, whether you are the accused employee, the complaining one, or merely a potential witness, bear in mind that confidentiality is crucial. Two people have their reputations on the line, and you may or may not know all the facts. In the typical situation, the employer will keep the information it gathers as confidential as possible, consistent with state and
federal laws, and both the accused and the complainant will have a chance to present their cases. Don’t Be Afraid To Cooperate There can be no retaliation against anyone for complaining about sexual harassment, for helping someone else complain, or for providing information regarding a complaint. The law protects employees who participate in any way in administrative complaints, and employee policies protect employees who honestly participate in in-house investigations. If you are afraid to cooperate, you should be very frank about your concerns when talking to the employer’s investigator. Answer the questions completely. As the Complainant If you are making the complaint, the investigator will need to know all the details, unpleasant though they will be to recount. The investigator has a duty to be fair to everyone involved and needs as much information as possible. Be prepared to give the following information:
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The names of everyone who might have seen or heard about the offensive conduct; The names of everyone who may have had a similar experience with the alleged harasser; A chronology -- when and where each incident occurred; The reasons why you did not report the incidents earlier (if you have delayed at all); and Your thoughts on what the employer should do to correct the problem and maintain a harassment-free environment.
The investigator man need to talk with you several times while other employees are questioned and information is gathered.
The DO’s and DON’Ts of Sexual Harassment
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Admit that a problem exists Tell the offender specifically what you find offensive Tell the offender that his or her behavior is bothering you Say specifically what you want or don’t want to happen, such as “please call me by my name not Honey,” or “please don’t tell that kind of joke in front of me.”
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Blame yourself for someone else’s behavior, unless it truly is inoffensive Choose to ignore the behavior, unless it is truly inoffensive Try to handle any severe or recurring harassment problem by yourself -- get help.
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. Dealing with the Harasser upfront:
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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 behavior: 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.
What can you do as a colleague?
Do not disbelieve a woman when she shares about harassment. Remember sexual harassment is 'unwelcome' behavior. Do not trivialize 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 judgment carefully and know your rights. Spread the word - let your colleagues know about the issue, its prevalence and the judgment. 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 organization 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. 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 behavior offends an employee, stop that behavior. Ask yourself: Could your behavior offend or hurt people at your workplace? Could your behavior be interpreted by another as sexual harassment? Would you like your behavior to be discussed by others? Would you like your friend, partner, child or sibling to be treated in the same manner? AS AN EMPLOYER……. 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 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;
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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. . 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 acknowledged 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 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 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 redress 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 :
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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.
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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, therefoe, (a) do not give too much weightage 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. (Adopted from ?Sexual harassment is no joke? by SIPTU, a trade union in Germany) 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.
The Sex Discrimination Act 1984 defines sexual harassment as "... unwanted conduct of a sexual nature, in circumstances in which a reasonable person, having regard to all the circumstances, would have anticipated that the person harassed would be offended, humiliated or intimidated."
Undesirable behavior of a sexual nature at the workplace if such conduct is unwelcome, unsuitable or insulting, or if it can be justifiably perceived by the party concerned as a condition for decisions affecting the exercise of rights and obligations ensuring from labor relations.
Sexual harassment is defined as, when any verbal, non-verbal or physical action is used to change a victim's sexual status against the will of the victim and resulting in the victim feeling inferior or hurting the victim's dignity. Man and woman are looked upon as equal, and any action trying to change the balance in status with the differences in sex as a tool, is also sexual harassment. In the workplace, jokes, remarks, etc., are only deemed discriminatory if the employer has stated so in their written policy. Women are viewed as being responsible for confronting harassment themselves, such as by slapping the harasser in the face. Law number 1385 of December 21, 2005 regulates this area.
Article 222-33 of the French Criminal Code describes sexual harassment as, "The fact of harassing anyone using orders, threats or constraint, in order to obtain favors of a sexual nature, by a person abusing the authority that functions confer on him..." This means the harasser can only be someone with authority on the harassed (basically, there can't be sexual harassment between coworkers of the same rank). However, moral harassment occurs when an employee is subjected to repeated acts (one is not enough) the aim or effect of which may result in a degradation (deterioration) of his conditions of employment that might undermine his rights and his dignity, affect his physical or mental health or jeopardize his professional future. Sexual as well as the moral harassment is recognized by the law.
Sexual harassment in India is termed "Eve teasing" and is described as: unwelcome sexual gesture or behaviour whether directly or indirectly as sexually coloured remarks; physical contact and advances; showing pornography; a demand or request for sexual favours; any other unwelcome physical, verbal/non-verbal conduct being sexual in nature. The critical factor is the unwelcomeness of the behaviour, thereby making the impact of such actions on the recipient more relevant rather than intent of the perpetrator. According to India's constitution, sexual harassment infringes the fundamental right of a woman to gender equality under Article 14 of the Constitution of India and her right to life and live with dignity under Article 21 of the Constitution. Although there is no specific law against sexual harassment at workplace in India but many provisions in other legislations protect against sexual harassment at workplace,
such as Section 354, IPC deals with “assault or criminal force to a woman with the intent to outrage her modesty, and Section 509, IPC deals with “word, gesture or act intended to insult the modesty of a woman.
The 1998 Israeli Sexual Harassment Law interprets sexual harassment broadly, and prohibits the behavior as a discriminatory practice, a restriction of liberty, an offence to human dignity, a violation of every person's right to elementary respect, and an infringement of the right to privacy. Additionally, the law prohibits intimidation or retaliation that accommodates sexual harassment. Intimidation or retaliation thus related to sexual harassment are defined by the law as "prejudicial treatment". (Kamir, 2005)
Pakistan has adopted a Code of Conduct for Gender Justice in the Workplace that will deal with cases of sexual harassment. The Alliance Against Sexual Harassment At workplace (AASHA) announced they would be working with the committee to establish guidelines for the proceedings. AASHA defines sexual harassment much the same as it is defined in the U.S. and other cultures.
The Anti-Sexual Harassment Act of 1995 was enacted "primarily to protect and respect the dignity of workers, employees, and applicants for employment as well as students in educational institutions or training centers. This law, consisting of ten sections, provides for a clear definition of work, education or training-related sexual harassment and specifies the acts constituting sexual harassment. It likewise provides for the duties and liabilities of the employer in cases of sexual harassment, and sets penalties for violations of its provisions. It is to be noted that a victim of sexual harassment is not barred from filing a separate and independent action for damages and other relief aside from filing the charge for sexual harassment.
There is no special provision in the employment law that provides for moral or sexual harassment; however it is commonly accepted by the jurisprudence, that sexual harassment occurs when the employee is subjected to acts of another person in order to obtain favours of a sexual nature. Moral harassment occurs when en employee is subjected to acts which may result in a deterioration of his conditions of employment or undermine his rights and dignity as well as affect his physical or moral health. These definitions are not legal ones, but definitions accepted by the jurisprudence
In the Criminal Code, Russian Federation, (CC RF), there exists a law which prohibits utilization of an office position and material dependence for coercion of sexual interactions (Article 118, current CC RF). However, according to the Moscow Center for Gender Studies, in practice, the courts do not examine these issues.
A ban on discrimination was included in the Federal Constitution (Article 4, Paragraph 2 of the old Federal Constitution) in 1981 and adopted in Article 8, paragraph 2 of the revised Constitution. The ban on sexual harassment in the workplace forms part of the Federal Act on Gender Equality (GEA) of 24 March 1995, where it is one of several provisions which prohibit discrimination in employment and which are intended to promote equality. Article 4 of the GEA defines the circumstances, Article 5 legal rights and Article 10 protection against dismissal during the complaints procedure. Article 328, paragraph 1 of the Code of Obligations (OR), Article 198 (2) of the Penal Code (StGB) and Article 6, paragraph 1 of the Employment Act (ArG) contain further statutory provisions on the ban on sexual harassment. The ban on sexual harassment is intended exclusively for employers, within the scope of their responsibility for protection of legal personality, mental and physical well-being and health. Article 4 of the GEA of 1995 defines sexual harassment in the workplace as follows: “Any behaviour of a sexual nature or other behaviour attributable to gender which affronts the human dignity of males and females in the workplace. This expressly includes threats, the promise of advantages, the application of coercion and the exercise of pressure to achieve an accommodation of a sexual nature.”
The Discrimination Act of 1975, was modified to establish sexual harassment as a form of discrimination in 1986. It states that harassment occurs where there is unwanted conduct on the ground of a person's sex or unwanted conduct of a sexual nature and that conduct has the purpose or effect of violating a person's dignity, or of creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment for them. If an employer treats someone less favourably because they have rejected, or submitted to, either form of harassment described above, this is also harassment
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