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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.

Sotloff beheading: Barack Obama orders 350 more US troops to Iraq

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Sotloff beheading: Barack Obama orders 350 more US troops to Iraq

Washington: US President Barack Obama on Tuesday ordered about 350 more US troops to Baghdad to protect American diplomatic facilities and staff in the Iraqi capital, the White House said.The announce...


Child abuse revelations divide "most shameful town in Britain"

from firstpost

Child abuse revelations divide "most shameful town in Britain"

ROTHERHAM England (Reuters) - Swapping cigarettes and chewing gum, the teenage girls outside Rotherham's Centenary Indoor Market are not engrossed in the conversations students should be having on the...

Child abuse revelations divide "most shameful town in Britain"

from firstpost

Child abuse revelations divide "most shameful town in Britain"

ROTHERHAM England (Reuters) - Swapping cigarettes and chewing gum, the teenage girls outside Rotherham's Centenary Indoor Market are not engrossed in the conversations students should be having on the...

Islamic State video purports to show beheading of US journalist Steven Sotloff

from firstpost

Islamic State video purports to show beheading of US journalist Steven Sotloff

Beirut: Islamic State extremists released a video Tuesday purportedly showing the beheading of a second American journalist, Steven Sotloff, and warning President Barack Obama that as long as US airst...

Saudi Arabia says it arrests 88 for preparing "terrorist" raids

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Saudi Arabia says it arrests 88 for preparing "terrorist" raids

RIYADH (Reuters) - Saudi Arabia has detained 88 people, more than half of them Saudis, on suspicion of plotting "terrorist" attacks at home and abroad, the interior ministry said on Tuesday....

Ukraine rebels say they are poised to recapture Donetsk airport

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Ukraine rebels say they are poised to recapture Donetsk airport

BRUSSELS/DONETSK Ukraine (Reuters) - EU officials proposed sanctions on Tuesday to starve Russian firms of cash as punishment for Moscow's role in Ukraine, where rebels said they were storming Donetsk...

EU proposes tough sanctions on Moscow as Ukraine rebels advance

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EU proposes tough sanctions on Moscow as Ukraine rebels advance

BRUSSELS/KIEV (Reuters) - European officials proposed sweeping new sanctions on Tuesday to starve Russia's companies of capital and technology as punishment for Moscow's intervention in Ukraine, where...