n18
NEWS|Current Affairs 
   |

The allegation levelled against Tehelka founder Tarun Tejpal has reignited the debate on the safety of women and protection against sexual harassment at workplace. Complaints of sexual abuse at the workplace are often ignored as minor misconduct rather than being reported as serious crimes that carry a penalty. Often women aren't aware of the legal recourse at their disposal. Is an offer by a senior colleague to come to his home after work hours to finish a pending project sexual harassment? Can a complaint be filed against a colleague for what he or she claims as "harmless flirting" despite being asked to stop? In a society where tradition runs deep, the woman is often seen as the aggressor and burdened with establishing her innocence in incidents of sexual abuse. She is dubbed as the provocateur and future "troublemaker" and future employers are wary of hiring her. There are clearly defined laws to guard against sexual attack from an employer or co-worker. The Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act of 2013 covers sexual harassment at women's place of work. It was passed by the Lok Sabha on September 3, 2012 and cleared by the President of India in 2013. What constitutes sexual harassment The Act defines sexual harassment as: Implied or explicit promise of preferential treatment in her employment; or implied or explicit threat of detrimental treatment in her employment; or implied or explicit threat about her present or future employment status; or interference with her work or creating an intimidating or offensive or hostile work environment for her; or humiliating treatment likely to affect her health or safety. Physical contact and advances; Demand or request for sexual favours; Sexually coloured remarks; Showing pornography; Any other unwelcome physical, verbal or non-verbal conduct of sexual nature. Internationally, what constitutes harassment:> The International Labour Office considers "physical conduct, physical violence, physical contact, touching, pinching, the use of job-related threats or rewards to solicit sexual favours, verbal conduct, comments on a worker's appearance, age, private life, sexual comment, stories and jokes, sexual advances, repeated social invitations, insults based on the sex of the worker and condescending or paternalistic remarks all constitute sexual harassment. National Commission for Women The Complaints and Counseling Cell of the National Commission for Women (NCW) processes complaints of harassment received orally or written. It can also take suo motu action. The NCW also expedites and monitors a police investigation, brings the matter to the notice of various state authorities to facilitate action. For serious crimes, the Commission constitutes an Inquiry Committee which makes inquiries, examines witnesses, collects evidence and submits the report with recommendations. You can submit your complaint to the NCW here. National Helpline for Women There's also national helpline for women that address calls on harassment. The numbers 1091 and 1291 are toll free. The Indian Penal Code The Indian Penal Code provides overall protection against harassment through its several provisions. IPC Sections 292 - 294 that deals with obscenity IPC Section 354 dealing with criminal force or assault intended to outrage modesty IPC Section 375 deals with rape IPC Section 509 deals with word, gesture or act intended to outrage modesty What the employer should do: The Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act of 2013 states that the employer should: Provide a safe working environment at the workplace which shall include safety from the persons coming into contact at the workplace; display at any conspicuous place in the workplace, the penal consequences of sexual harassment organise workshops and awareness programmes at regular intervals for sensitising the employees with the provisions of the Act and orientation programmes for the members of the Internal Committee provide necessary facilities to the Internal Committee or the Local Committee, as the case may be, for dealing with the complaint and conducting an inquiry; assist in securing the attendance of respondent and witnesses before the Internal Committee or the Local Committee, as the case may be; provide assistance to the woman if she so chooses to file a complaint in relation to the offence under the Indian Penal Code cause to initiate action, under the Indian Penal Code or any other law against the perpetrator, or if the aggrieved woman so desires, where the perpetrator is not an employee, in the workplace at which the incident of sexual harassment took place; treat sexual harassment as a misconduct under the service rules and initiate action for such misconduct; monitor the timely submission of reports by the Internal Committee. Process of filing a complaint: The aggrieved woman can make, in writing, a complaint of sexual harassment at work place to an Internal Committee if so constituted, or the Local Committee, in case it is not so constituted, within a period of three months from the date of incident and in case of a series of incidents, within a period of three months from the date of last incident. Where the aggrieved woman is unable to make a complaint on account of her physical or mental incapacity or death or otherwise, her legal heir or such other person as may be prescribed may make a complaint under this section. Constitution of Internal Complaints Committee The law demands that every employer of a workplace shall, by an order in writing, constitute a Committee to be known as the 'Internal Complaints Committee': The Internal Committee consists of a Presiding Officer who shall be a woman employed at a senior level at workplace from amongst the employees, not less than two Members from amongst employees preferably committed to the cause of women or who have had experience in social work or have legal knowledge, one member from amongst non-governmental organisations or associations committed to the cause of women or a person familiar with the issues relating to sexual harassment. At least one-half of the total Members so nominated will have to be women.

MH17 crash mission to be unarmed for now: Dutch PM

from firstpost

MH17 crash mission to be unarmed for now: Dutch PM

The Hague: International police investigators at the MH17 crash site in war-torn Ukraine will not for now carry weapons, Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said on Friday as more remains were recovered.&...


Gaza crisis: US most powerful, but doesn't control everything, says Obama

from firstpost

Gaza crisis: US most powerful, but doesn't control everything, says Obama

Washington: Defending his administration's foreign policy in view of the ongoing crisis in Ukraine and the Gaza conflict, President Barack Obama has said that the US does not control everything that h...

Obama acknowledges CIA indulged in torture after 9/11 attacks

from firstpost

Obama acknowledges CIA indulged in torture after 9/11 attacks

Washington: US President Barack Obama has acknowledged that the CIA had tortured suspects detained in the immediate aftermath of 11 September terror attacks.The US administration is soon expected to r...

Pakistan widows, "second" wives flee fighting but are denied aid

from firstpost

Pakistan widows, "second" wives flee fighting but are denied aid

BANNU Pakistan (Reuters) - Thousands of women displaced by fighting in Pakistan are struggling to get food and other aid because they lack identity cards and conservative Muslim elders have forbidden ...

At least 40 dead in Israeli shelling in Gaza Strip - hospital

from firstpost

At least 40 dead in Israeli shelling in Gaza Strip - hospital

GAZA (Reuters) - Israeli shelling near the southern Gaza town of Rafah killed at least 40 people on Friday, the local hospital said, as a ceasefire that went into effect only hours earlier crumbled.Is...

Putin wants monasteries, church rebuilt inside Kremlin

from firstpost

Putin wants monasteries, church rebuilt inside Kremlin

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russian President Vladimir Putin has called for two monasteries and a church that were demolished during Soviet times to be rebuilt in the Kremlin, the largest overhaul of the site'...

Imam's killing in China may be aimed at making Muslim Uighurs choose sides

from firstpost

Imam's killing in China may be aimed at making Muslim Uighurs choose sides

BEIJING (Reuters) - The murder of a state-backed imam in China's Xinjiang region underscores an escalation in 18 months of violence and could be part of a bid by extremists to persuade moderate Muslim...