The status of women in India has been a major issue for decades. According to the various religions that prevail in India, women are to be worshipped in all circumstances. But the reality is that we worship goddesses whereas women are subjected to harassment and maltreatment.
While sexual harassment has been an inescapable problem for women throughout the history, only in the last decade have feminists won definition of sexual harassment as a form of sex discrimination and women have come forward in mobs to demand remedies and institutional changes.
Even after so much of awareness that has been spread over these years, still, unfortunately, the outcome is slightest. Sexual harassment or sexism in the workplace happens much often than what we understand. The simple reason being that the cases or instances of sexual harassment are not reported. There are many cases of serious sexual harassment where the victim is not able to get any relief because of social pressure as even society hasn’t considered it as a serious problem.
The reluctance to take actions often comes down to a simple formula. A company is given freedom to decide its own action base. The company takes the action depending on the fact whether it’s a bigger financial risk to lose a key person or to settle a few sexual harassment claims. The power of position is often triggered when it comes to cases related to sexual harassment.
THE REASONS WHY SeXUAL HARASSMENT DOES NOT GET REPORTED
There are many reasons why women are not able to report unwanted verbal or physical conduct. It has been found that the abusers often target women who have certain traits or disadvantages. The ones who are usually harassed are the ones that may be inexperienced employees or single mothers who rely on a paycheck. Others may target those who are timid personality types i.e. the ones who have a hard time in taking a stand for themselves.
But this does not mean that executive women are not subjected to sexual harassment. A woman may have represented management-level, she can experience sexual harassment from subordinate level employees. This class of women are concerned about retaliation from peers and are concerned about their career or reputation impact that they might have after reporting sexual harassment. It is not easy for women to report a case, one is always concerned about the office gossips and difficulty finding a new job if the forthcoming employers get to know about the claim or being tagged as a troublemaker for the organizations or people she works with. It is such a difficult situation for a women because at one hand it is said that proceedings related to sexual harassment complaint are to be kept confidential but practically it hardly takes any time that peers of the victim to be apprised of such complaints, due to lack of enforceability part of organisations to enforce confidentiality by respondent or witnesses.
It has been observed that some harassers have very low self-esteem and don’t believe they are being coercive because they don’t see themselves having power. And sometimes women don’t report because they think “everyone already knows” and action hasn’t been taken that is often not the case.
She further adds that “There are the rumor mill and people at a certain level who know about it, but they don’t say anything to people who can do something about it because they’re afraid of retaliation,”
Harassers usually look for people who are in less of a position or power in credibility or monetary stability. Sexual harassment happens much more than what we can even imagine.Alyssa Milano, a Hollywood actress on being sexually harassed by her producer, Harvey Weinstein, urged women who have been sexually harassed to write #MeToo on twitter. #MeToo posts of thousands of women across India has proved the same, the cases are not reported as the internal mechanism is not strong. The compulsions made by the act are just a liability for the big organizations.It is just for the namesake.
A young enthusiastic lawyer, Mr. Kanishk Agarwal has come up with an application Centre4POSH, with an ideology that organization needs to focus on preventing sexual harassment in the organization rather than just complying with it or addressing it as per the book of law. In the past, the focus has always been on redressal mechanism, but prevention mechanism is a better way to curb the deeply rooted problem within India. Sensitizing the employees on sexual harassment is very important as sometimes, even the employees also don’t know that their conduct might amount to sexual harassment. Some of the harassments which are disregarded as harassment and taken as part of the culture by even higher management employees are; use of abusive language, repeated request for late night dinner dates, ogling, caressing etc.
It’s time we endure against Sexual Harassment and transform an organization from being a complaint to preventing SH at the workplace!