The rapid growth of India Inc., emergence of sunrise sectors, niche profiles and new – age tools have a silent killer – Sexual Harassment. The issue which everybody knows exists, which all know has a law too, but still few cares. For the rest, it’s just a coffee – table discussion.
In 1997, in the landmark judgment on Vishakha v. State of Rajasthan, the Supreme Court of India defined sexual harassment at the workplace, pronounced preventive, prohibitory and redressal measures, and gave directives towards a legislative mandate to the guidelines proposed.
With the Act and Rules on sexual harassment, titled Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013 and Rules 2013 are in force from 9th Dec. 2013. It appeared that India Inc. has shot up its arms against the tolerance of sexual harassment issue. Also, it will not be easier now for the organizations to hush up the complaints of physical abuse against women employees. It has to be understood that it is a problem which is be addressed in such a way that it is not to avoid getting accused of harassment, but to avoid actual instances of harassment.
In 2013, substantial changes were also made in the way sexual harassment was viewed within the criminal justice system in India. The Criminal Law Amendment Act of 2013, which commenced on April 3, 2013, inserted Section 354A, 354 B, 354C and 354D in Indian Penal Code (I.P.C.) that made sexual harassment, assault on woman to disrobe, voyerism and stalking an offence apart from assault on woman to outrage her modesty in Section 354.
Government also launched a portal to help women lodge complaints online about sexual harassment at work. The online complaint management system ‘SHe-box’ (sexual harassment electronic box) is hosted on the website of the ministry of women and child development to facilitate victims to post their complaints on line.
In 2016, the PoSH Act was amended and ICC was renamed as IC, with the objective to enhance the role of such committee from merely investigating the complaints to proactively initiate measures to make sexual harassment free workplace environment.