Sexual Harassment of Women: An Age Old Tale

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Sexual harassment is a frequent occurrence in today’s world. There isn’t a day where one doesn’t come across a sexual harassment case either through electronic or print media.

Most of the women don’t explicitly voice their grievances against sexual harassment because of fear of being thrown out of the job if they do express it to anyone, or if the person is powerful enough he might make the availability of other jobs difficult for them. For example, if we take the movie industry, generally the people who have long-standing of fame have the power to make sure that the people below them will not get any roles if they defy them.

In the modern era, there are still people who believe that men are superior to women and that they can escape from anything they do.

This is not the first time the case of sexual harassment has come to light recently.  Women around the world have been facing it for decades.

Indian Scenario:

The recent incident of sexual harassment of women in the “High Spirits Café” has become a burning issue, which had the social media such as Twitter and Facebook bombarding with the confessions from all the women who have been harassed. It has been alleged that the owner “Khodu Irani” of High Spirits Café, which is situated in Pune, had groped, sent lewd messages and sexually harassed the employees and a few of the patrons who visited the café. The trigger point of the incident is when one “Sheena Dabolkar” has been shamed on the Facebook Page of High Spirits for exposing the sexist nature prevailing on the premises. [High Spirits, but only for men: Women come forward alleging rampant sexual harassment at Pune bar by Neerja Deodhar]

After this, many people started tweeting about their experiences and how they were harassed. Since the issue is still being dealt with, no concrete outcome can be said about the allegations.

In order to stop the sexual harassment of the women especially at the workplace the Parliament had enacted “The Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013”. This act is based on the guidelines given by the Supreme Court in a Landmark Judgment of “Vishaka and Others V. State of Rajasthan”. [1997 (7) SC 384] The following are the guidelines given by the court:

  • It is the duty of the employer or any other authorized person to prevent sexual harassment at workplace and to provide procedures for prosecution of such acts by taking all the necessary steps.
  • That the following acts constitute sexual harassment:
  • Physical Contact and Advances
  • A Demand for sexual favors
  • Sexually colored remarks
  • To show pornography
  • Any other verbal or non-verbal or unwelcome physical contact of sexual nature
  • All the employers or any other person authorized have to take preventive steps as following:
  • Notification or circular should be published and circulated at workplace.
  • All the government companies have to include rules and regulations in regard to the sexual harassment in their conduct code.
  • All the private employers should include the rules in their standing orders.
  • Appropriate working conditions have to be facilitated.
  • The employers have to take appropriate action by making a complaint to the authorities in case any sexual harassment is notified within the premises.
  • All the employers have to make an appropriate complaint mechanism in the organization and disciplinary action should be taken in case of violating the said rule.
  • A complaint committee has to be constituted which a woman will head.
  • The employees have to take initiative to bring up sexual harassment issues in their meetings, or before an appropriate forum.
  • The employer or the person who has been authorized should provide full support in the case where a third party who is an outsider sexually harasses the worker.

The above landmark case has, for the first time in the history, defined “Sexual Harassment”.

Pre Vishaka Scenario:

Before the enactment of the Sexual Harassment Act and the guidelines given by the Supreme Court in the Vishaka Case, there has been no law to govern this matter. Though Remedies are available under the Indian Penal Code, 1860, the Indecent Representation of Women (Prohibition) Act, 1897, the Protection of Human Rights Act, 1993, Factories Act, 1948. [Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace by Nikunj Keyal] Sections 294, 354, 509 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 can provide remedies to the victims of sexual harassment.

Around The Globe:

Not many people in India would have known “Harvey Weinstein”. But with the recent issues with which he has come into the limelight, most of the people have come to know as to who is Harvey Weinstein.

So who exactly is Harvey Weinstein?

He is a Hollywood movie producer and a political liberal. He is a very famous person with power within his reach. [What Indian’s liberals can learn from Harvey Weinstein’s fall by Barkha Dutt]

Allegations of sexual assault have been made against him recently. The incident of Harvey Weinstein has stunned the United States. The Hollywood commented, “ The treatment of women in this way ends now” In the light of this event, the actress “Alyssa Milano” tweeted “If you’ve been sexually harassed or assaulted write ‘me too’ as a reply to this tweet.”

What is “MeToo”?

This has been trending on the social media websites for last one week. “MeToo” is a movement founded by “Tarana Burke” in 2007. This has provided a platform for all the women who have been sexually harassed to help raise voice against those men who believe that nothing can harm them. Millions of followers have tweeted to the thread “#MeToo”. [#MeToo Campaign Showed That Misogyny is a Deeply Cultural Issue.

Here’s Why It Was Sorely Needed

This campaign has become an insignia for global unity. This movement has made many women to break their silence due to fear, shame from the experience and expresses their encounters. Many sexual harassment cases have come to light. The impact of the MeToo campaign has also had a tremendous impact in India. This has given many Indian women support to come out and share their experiences of sexual harassment.

One woman has said “We will rise, we will scream from the rooftops if we have too. We will whisper it gently to the ones who are suffering currently. Me too….Me too. We will continue until every survivor is empowered to speak truth to power and until the world is ready to listen to us.

This campaign has also been successful in many other countries around the globe giving encouragement to the women to bravely share their own experiences.

Conclusion:

It is time for all the women around the world to stand firm against the sexual harassment. It is time to raise their voice bravely and seek justice for the wrong done to them. It is time to show to the men around who still believe that they are superior to women and that the time has changed and they are to be treated as equals and with respect.

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