Eight years back country got a codified law which aims to provide protection to women against sexual harassment at workplace. It was welcomed by one and all. After so much time, it would not be unreasonable to examine the efficacy of the law along with organizational and societal mindset which helps determining the final outcome.
Many research studies and surveys have been conducted in past on the subject to know the pulse and understand the ground reality. Few cumulative findings are that a major chunk of women who work in unorganized sector are either not aware of the forums available for reporting sexual harassment or social mind set discourages them from speaking up and fight back. There is a lack of support system required for women working in unorganized sector to take such matters to logical end. In organized sector most cases are under reported. Organisations prefer to make paper compliances of related law than strengthening the grievances redressal mechanism. In many cases, organisations press the panic button in such cases and punish the alleged perpetrator in haste without going into details of the complaint causing a chilling effect on co-male employees. In research studies it is also found that in the absence of correct data compilation by the Govt. agencies in the respect, it is difficult to assess the effectiveness of the law. The law has its own limitations and loop holes. For workplaces having less than 10 employees, any such complaint of sexual harassment has to be submitted to local committee which is only one in each district. It seems impractical for a woman of a far interior place of district to come repeatedly and fight for his complaint at district head quarter level. Also, like women, men also need such law to get protection from harassment.
It cannot be denied that after POSH Law came in to existence, number of cases of sexual harassment have increased. Working women have started speaking up which is a good sign. There are enough laws dealing with sexual harassment in the country but answer to the question that why still problem of sexual harassment exists at workplace, is simple. No law can guarantee the elimination of crime for which it is enacted. Sexual harassment is a crime that violates the fundamental right of gender inequality and life with dignity but the biggest hurdle in fighting out with such menace is the deep rooted social mindset influenced by patriarchy where women from the early age are taught to tolerate things and habituated to accept as a part of life. So, the family and societal mindset is to be changed. Girl from the childhood need to be taught and encouraged to fight back any injustice or inappropriate behaviour meted out to her. Naming and shaming has to loose relevance in such aspect. So women have to continue speaking up forcefully.
In many cases, organisations press the panic button in such cases and punish the alleged perpetrator in haste without going into details of the complaint causing a chilling effect on co-male employees.
Other side of the coin which can’t be overlooked is also the possible abuse of this protection given by law to women. The cases of abuses by women have also come to light which has marred the workplace sanctity. Women have to be careful in this respect and desist from abusing the right of protection given to them by law for some short term gains or teaching a lesson to someone at workplace. Certainly at last women will be looser in such situation.
This edition cover story is an attempt to understand whether the posh law has delivered and met the objectives for which it was enacted along with other dimensions of the socio-legal complexity. Experts of the subjects are here to enrich readers with their wisdom and experience.
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