Difficult for a Woman to Say She Has Been Sexually Harassed Because We as Society Blame Her: Madras HC

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The first bench comprising of Chief Justice Sanjib Banerjee and Justice Senthilkumar of the Madras High Court, while hearing the arguments of the case involving IPS officer R. Subbash in Puducherry, while making an observation that the women who suffer sexual harassment are blamed because of the way they dress or are attractive, held that while the victim may excuse the misconduct of the harasser, the court should exhibit zero tolerance towards men who harass women in workplaces.

The senior counsel, ARL Sundrasen, who represented the police officer in the court, argued that the alleged victim did not lodge a formal complaint against the said officer and the committee had taken suo moto cognizance of the issue and thereafter obtained a complaint from her. It was also submitted in the court that even as the duo was willing for conciliation, the process was not allowed and the committee has gone ahead and submitted its report.

The Chief Justice, on observing that women have been harassed for too long, highlighted that the difficulty that prevails for a woman to say that she has been sexually harassed especially with the society immediately pointing fingers at her (the victim) and blaming her for being the cause of it as well.

The Chief Justice said,

“Sometimes one may have to err on the side of the woman because the message has to be loud and clear that sexual harassment in the workplace will not be tolerated. Let us close this chapter of women getting harassed at the workplace.”

The petitioner’s counsel also pointed out that men can be a victim of such an act at the workplace too, to which the Court replied that it is open to and aligned to such a possibility but refused to grant any indulgence on the issue holding that the committee report spells out graphic details of how the woman was harassed by the police officer. Following this, the plea was dismissed as withdrawn.


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