Sexually harassed at work? Don’t stay silent!

Is your boss giving you more than just that friendly tap on the shoulder for a job well done?

Are you dreading to go to work because of a colleague’s constant attempt to make a pass at you?

It’s time you speak up about it.

It’s time you speak up about it.

For many women today, this is how it plays out. The work atmosphere is getting to be a hotbed of hostility – everything from unwanted furtive glances to inappropriate ‘touching’ and outright asking for sexual favours in lieu of work.

Cases of sexual harassment at the workplace have one thing in common – the absolute silence that encompasses women who suffer it. While staying quite may seem like the only way out, experts urge women to wake up and speak out as this can save other individuals.

The Vishaka guidelines against sexual harassment at work

Sexual harassment includes unwelcome sexually determined behavious (whether directly or by implication) as :

  1. Physical contact and advances
  2. A demand or request for sexual favours
  3. Sexually coloured remarks
  4. Showing pornography
  5. Any other unwelcome physical, verbal or non-verbal conduct of sexual nature

Know your law

Five sections of the Indian Penal Code that women can use to fight crimes like stalking, defamation and online abuse

Section 509

Word, gesture or act intended to insult the modesty of a woman’ pertains directly to sexual harassment. Though intially designed to address the widespread issue of street sexual harassment (or ‘ eve-teasing’ in its watered-down version), Section 509 can be applied to the harassment of wome in online spaces. In 2001, a young man in the 11th grade was convicted under Section 509 for making vulgar remarks about female classmates on a website. It was not only a successful use of 509 to curb online harassment, but the first time a minor had been booked under the law.

Under the Criminal Law (Amendment) Act 2013, the addition of Section 354A to the IPC provides a more comprehensive definition of sexual harassment. It makes physical contact and advances involving unwelcome and explicit sexual overtures; demand or request for sexual favours; showing pornography agains the will of a woman; or making sexually-coloured remarks, a criminal offence

Section 354D of the new Act pertains to ‘stalking’ – making it a crime – and also includes crimes that involve monitoring the electronic communication of a women.

Section 507 of the IPC – criminal intimidation by anonymous communication is another provision that may be used by women facing harassment and threats online.

Section 499 pertains to defamation. If a woman is being defamed or publicly shamed online, she can take legal recourse.

Courtesy : Time of India, Chennai Times

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