The second edition of the Annual Review on the State of Sexual Harassment in India published by the WICCI Council of Ethics, in collaboration with the Eight Goals One Foundation (8one), highlights the findings of the surveys conducted in the formal and the informal sectors to understand the status of the application of The Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013 (PoSH Act).
The 2021 edition of the review focuses on the digitisation of formal sector workspaces and the metamorphosis of workplace sexual harassment in light of the same. In addition to this, this year, the review has also taken into its fold the informal sector which employs close to 93% of the total workforce (as of 2021), said Rishika Sharma, National President, WICCI Council of Ethics.
Some of the findings from this year’s Review are:
- The report found that 67.1% and 45.2% of the informal sector workers believe that income and caste respectively are distinguishing factors that lead to instances of sexual harassment. This goes on to show how an individual’s socio-economic status makes them more vulnerable to harassment, especially in the informal sector.
- 43% of the informal sector respondents reported feeling uncomfortable in the presence of a colleague at least once. This is in stark contrast to the PoSH Act which aims to ensure a safe working environment for workers in both, the formal and the informal sectors.
- Only 15.9% of the informal sector respondents were aware of Local Committees in their districts. The majority believed that reaching out to the nearest police station was the only way they could file a complaint. This in itself is a psychosocial deterrent for most workers who have suffered through instances of sexual harassment.
- In the formal sector, even though 39.3% of HRs/CXOs stated that they conducted gender sensitisation workshops, only 4% of the HRs/CXOs conducted workshops on i) what constitutes as sexual harassment, ii) awareness about the PoSH Act and iii) sexual harassment in the cyberspace. 41.6% of the HRs and CXOs stated that their training materials were “Never” updated. This indicates an existing gap in employee awareness of sexual harassment and appropriate conduct in the digital space, especially given the shift to virtual workspaces in the last two years.
- 55.2% of the formal sector employees who had faced sexual harassment at their workplace decided against filing a complaint. This further highlights the gaps that continue to exist in the implementation of the PoSH Act even after eight years of its ratification across the country. Read the full review here.