In today’s world, women are achievers in every field. The constitution of India provides positive discrimination against women by passing several laws and policies to bring change. However, women face sexual harassment at their workplace, while walking on the road, and while traveling on public transportation.
What does Sexual harassment include?
- Physical contact and advances.
- Insistence for sexual favours
- Making sexually colored remarks
- Showing pornography
- Any form of unwelcomed physical, verbal, or non-verbal conduct of sexual nature.
With increasing cases of woman’s sexual harassment in the last decade, one of the most significant cases of a women employee Bhanwari Devi, fighting for rights for women and child marriage, revealed the hazards that working women face daily and highlighted the urgency for safeguards to be implemented for the same. And with the same interest, legislation in the Supreme Court of India under the name Vishaka was filed by women’s right activist and lawyers. Here are some guidelines from the same.
The Vishaka Guidelines:
These guidelines are related to women’s safety and protection at the workplace and were introduced by the Supreme Court of India in the year 1997. Guidelines issued by the Hon’ble are as follow:
- Definition of sexual harassment.
- Provide a safer working environment.
- Employer’s duty to file a complaint and assist if the employee is sexually harassed.
- Complaint redressal committee.
- Duty of employer to spread awareness.
- Widen the scope of guidelines.
It is believed that Vishaka guidelines were pioneering steps taken by the government to protect women and their rights. However, the guidelines speak about how employers are responsible to take preventive actions to stop sexual harassment in the workplace and acknowledge the act if found through a complaint.
However, Vishaka guidelines inspired the Sexual Harassment of Women at the Workplace (prevention, prohibition, and Redressal) Act, 2013 and paved the way for the development of the act of 2013. The Sexual Harassment of Women at Work Place (Prevention, Prohibition, and Redressal) Act, 2013 was passed. This legislative act was passed to protect women from sexual harassment in their workplace. This landmark legislation in India helps women to stand for themselves and assert autonomy in the workplace against sexual harassment.
Let’s read more about POSH Act, 2013.
The Protection of Women from Sexual Harassment Act, 2013, was passed by the Indian government in order to protect women from sexual harassment and abuse in the workplace, offering a safe and secure environment for women. This act also seeks to create awareness about workplace harassment, and can victims can pursue necessary legal remedies.
This act enables organisations to establish an internal complaints Committee (ICC) to address complaints of sexual harassment and create a safe and respectful environment for women employees. This also stands as one of the key provisions of the POSH Act, 2013.
Key Points of the POSH Act 2013 include:
- Organisations are required to display a notice providing details of the protection given to female employees against sexual harassment.
- An internal Complaint Committee is a must to address complaints of sexual harassment.
- ICC should be headed by a woman, with at least half female members.
- The employer is set responsible for preventing sexual harassment and also ensure the victims are not victimized or discriminated against.
- The organisation is held responsible to provide support and assistance to the complainant. And also make arrangements for her work in case transfer is applicable.
Impact of the POSH Act, 2013:
The POSH Act is an important piece of legislation, impacting Indian workforce positively. It protects and safeguards female employees from sexual assault and harassment but also saves them from the mental trauma that tags along. It outlines the procedures and responsibilities of the complainant and the employer.
Challenges in Implementing the POSH Act, 2013
The POSH Act 2013 was introduced to protect women in the workplace from sexual harassment. Despite its noble aims, there were hindrances in implementing the Act:
- Awareness about Law and order are very less, and thus, reporting the case is difficult. And that’s why some of the cases don’t even get registered.
- Organisations need to be well equipped with proper grievance redressal mechanisms or to make any effort to make employees aware of their rights under the Act.
- Workplace culture acts as a major factor in the prevalence of sexual harassment. Employers and organisations need to tackle head-on.
- Awareness and the right to education play a vital role in effectively protecting women and their rights.
Strategies for Enforcing the POSH Act, 2013
To make POSH Act a successful one, employers and managers must take proactive steps to ensure workplaces are POSH-Compliant.
Here are some strategies for employees that can use to enforce the POSH Act of 2013:
- Organisations should develop a comprehensive and clear policy about sexual harassment and post it prominently for employees to view and understand.
- A formal complaint procedure should be established and ensure all the complaints are addressed promptly and fairly. It is also important for the employees to know their rights and procedures for making a complaint.
- Every complaint registered should be taken seriously, and thoroughly investigated, pointing out to the employees that harassment will not be tolerated.
- Strict disciplinary action should be taken against those found guilty of sexual harassment.
- Personal counseling sessions should be arranged for both complainant and the accused.
- Joining hands with I’m Safe App and securing your organisation with technology and providing virtual assistance to your female employees.
How Can I’m Safe App Help organisations?
I’m Safe App is one such women-empowered app that is designed for women and their safety. Today’s women are strong, powerful, and challenging in nature. Any hurdles or challenges coming their way, stopping them from growing are faced without fear and anger to stop it once and for all.
With I’m Safe app, women of all age groups, races, and cultures can be benefitted from it. This app has a special section for organisations wherein, every female employee can use the app with ease, protect themselves from harassment, manage their mental space, and report with a strong note when required.
Some of the main features of the app include the report feature, wherein, female employees can report abuse or harassment directly to the management, anonymously.
Another interesting feature that the app holds for female employees is, night shift safety. Women don’t take up night shift roles because their main concern is night shift and traveling. This app can save you from the additional trauma that you add to yourself. I’m Safe app helps you in tracking your travel and sending emergency SOS alerts. The app can fake up a call for you, adding up to your safety.
On a final note, POSH Act 2013 is a major step forward in ensuring a safe and harassment-free work environment for female employees in India. It also provides a framework to follow for a zero-tolerance policy towards sexual harassment in the workplace. However, the legal work is done by the government, but we are equally responsible to create a safe and secure working environment and work towards the objectives of the POSH Act 2013.