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Sexual Harassment Of Women At Workplace

 Sexual Harassment Of Women At Workplace

Sexist treatment of women originated as a historical part of the enslavement of black women and

spread to the workplace when women began to work in industries and households. However, it was

until in the early twentieth century that new types of sexual harassment emerged as a result of the

migration of women into secretarial roles. Following the Meritor vs. Vinison case, the United States

Government confirmed Section 703, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which provides

protection against sexual harassment of women in the workplace (SHW). Even the United Kingdom

and Australia, in 1975 and 1984, respectively, passed the Sex Discrimination Act.

Women's rights in independent India were put forth by the 1974 Towards Equality report of the

Committee on the Status of Women in India, as well as the 1993 Convention on the Elimination of all

Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), which was accepted by the Indian Republic of

Pakistan. Particularly, Article 11 of the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination Against

Women clearly recognised the issue of SHW as a violation of the right to work with dignity. However,

in India, there was no legal redress available for this. The police were the only ones who could

determine validity, and in court, the majority of the cases, the lady came out looking degraded, as in

the Mathura case.

Finally, the Supreme Court of India, in the historic Public Interest Litigation (PIL) case of Vishakha and

Ors. v. State of Rajasthan[5], staged the first judicial intervention in this matter in 1997. As a basis for

holding the perpetrators of the crime liable, the court cited Articles 11(1)(a) and (f) and Article 24 of

the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women, which stated that the State

must take measures to protect women from harassment in matters of employment because

Sections 354 and 354(A) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) of 1860 were not tailored to meet these


In the lack of legislation, the court adhered to the Beijing Statement of Principles on the

Independence of the Judiciary, which allows it to enact legislation. In this context, it proposed the

Vishakha Guidelines on sexual harassment in the workplace, which included measures for both

prevention and redressal of the situation. However, even after this example, the implementation

was subpar at best. Later, following the decision in the Medha Kotwal Lele case, which called for the

consolidation of the Vishakha Guidelines, the need for a stringent law was brought to light, which

resulted in the introduction of the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention,

Prohibition, and Redressal) Bill, 2013, which was introduced by Minister Krishna Tirath. Following

presidential assent on April 23, 2013, it was published with the Rules in order to become an Act

(POSH Act) and became effective immediately.


With an ever-increasing number of women entering the labour field (149.8 million women,

according to the 2011 census, the government determined that ensuring an enabling working

environment for women was the most important requirement to address. Each woman who is the

victim of sexual harassment, whether verbal, physical, or indicative, is granted a right to remedy

under the law, which includes measures for restitution. This can be deduced from the title change

made to the "Protection of Women Against Sexual Harassment at Work Place Bill, 2010" to include

"Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition, and Redressal) Bill, 2013" in

order to not only protect but also prevent SHW and provide redress to affected women. The Act

implements the Supreme Court's directions in the instances of Vishakha and Medha Kotwal Lele, as

well as creating a municipal legislation to enforce the country's mandatory ratification of the

Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women. It also provides legal

assistance in a large number of #metoo situations.

As women's rights activists in a nation like India, where patriarchy and women-suppressive

behaviours are deeply ingrained, it is critical to understand harassment from the perspective of the

victim. However, what a male member of staff considers to be a "harmless social engagement" may

really be a source of concern for women, who are disproportionately affected by sexual harassment.

To prevent employers from being forced to accommodate divergent viewpoints, this Act aims to

establish a standard for ensuring protection against SHW without providing scope for false or overly-

sensitive accusations based on what a reasonable woman would consider sufficiently severe or

pervasive to alter her working conditions to the point of becoming abusive or toxic for her health

and safety Most notably, with around 4.4 million ongoing litigation cases in India, the Act attempts

to secure the establishment of an Internal Committee (IC) and a Local Committee (LC), which, in

addition to facilitating faster access to justice, also ensures that complaints remain anonymous.


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