In a country like India where there is a history of man dominating the women and mesogenic mindset of men have always turned out to be hurdle in the life of a working woman where the woman is not taken as a significant part of the working environment. Sexual Harassment have been in existence even before the term for the same existed and is a matter of grave concern and is matter of grave concern since the era of industrialization. Women are sexually harassed when the working environment of the women becomes hostile and insecure for her to work which in turn causes her grave mental agony, depression, anxiety, physical harm and other health issues. It does not only violates women’s human rights but also violates the following fundamental rights enshrined in the constitution:
- Article 14 of the Constitution of India recognizes that sexual harassment of women is an infringement of the fundamental right of a woman to sex.
- Article 15of the Constitution of India when interpreted in the context of woman states that discrimination of women or other citizens on grounds of religion, race, caste, gender or place of birth is prohibited and is thus an infringement of the fundamental right of a woman.
- Sexual Harassment is also a violation of Article 21 of the Constitution of India which states that a right to life and dignity is a fundamental right.
Sexual Harassment of woman at work places has become very common in India. Many successful women have bearded this sexual harassment in order to make their career and to achieve their goal in life and many women have been silent on the same and destroyed themselves as they were made to feel powerless, less efficient and were told that they cannot do anything. Its high time now, the woman should now come forward to fight for their rights.
The following are the legal remedies that a women can take against sexual harassment at work places:
- The very first step a woman has to take is to file a complain with the internal committee of the workplace or the organization she is working in. Internal Committee is responsible for presenting to the organization during the year a yearly report reflecting the number of instances of sexual harassment that took place and were resolved. This information shall be further specified by the Company in its annual report. For firms that do not prepare their annual report, the companies should tell the District Officer of the number of such cases.
- The complaint can be filled by the aggrieved woman with the committee within a period of three months from the date when she was sexually harassed, which can also be extended up till three months more considering the inability or the condition of the woman.
- The complain can also be filed at that time by her legal heir, her friend, her relative, her co-worker, an officer of the State Women’s Commission or National Commission for Women to the internal committee on her behalf, with her permission.
- The committee before initiating the enquiry will solve the matter between the aggrieved woman and the opposite party by way of conciliation. (Note: Compensation can not be claimed by way of conciliation.
- If the conciliation does not turn out to be successful then the committee shall initiate an enquiry into the complaint giving chance to each of the party to be heard. (Note: the committee has to complete the enquiry within 90 days and no party is allowed to be represented by a lawyer during the process of inquiry.
- The firm or the organization shall have to then act in accordance with the recommendations of the committee within a 60 days period.
- If the aggrieved woman is not satisfied by the recommendations or conclusion of the committee then in that case she can appeal to the court or the tribunal.
- The aggrieved woman can also file a suit under the following section in the Indian Penal Code:
- Section 294 which talks about Obscene acts or singing obscene songs in any public place.
- Section 354A which talks about sexual harassment as an offence in particular.
- Section 509 talks about any word or gesture that intrudes the privacy of a woman and harms her modesty.
- Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013 recognizes sexual harassment as violation of woman’s constitutional rights and was enacted to provide legal measures to fight sexual harassment. This Act states that an organization or a workplace which has 10 or more employees working for them shall have to set up an internal grievance redressal committee and if the same is not followed by the organization or the employer then in that case he shall be liable to pay a fine of INR 50,000 and if he is found committing the same offence twice then in that case, he shall be liable to twice the punishment. Some additional punishment for the employer under the act would be the withdrawal of his license or non-renewal of his registration.
Sexual Harassment of woman at work places has become very common in India. Woman workforce is also a very significant part of the work-culture of India. Therefore, the Government should provide separate laws to deal with the same. Woman should be able to feel the same security and dignity at their workplace as the men feel. It is high time now, the women should now come forward to fight for their rights. The aggrieved women can make use of the above-mentioned remedies and should break the silence and should come forward to fight against it.