Sexual Harassment

Sexual Harassment

A few days ago, an extremely popular bar in Pune- High Spirits- reached a new low when its owner and his harassment of a large number of women came forward. In India, sexual harassment is a major concern due to women not feeling safe even inside the safety of their own homes or workplaces.

A woman has to think twice before even approaching any authority or legal body. Another significant fact which needs to be urgently considered is that this crime is not limited only to women. “Judging from the findings of a recent economic Times-synovate survey, from Pune 19% said there is sexual harassment at office. in Bangalore 51% of the respondents had been sexually harassed, while in Hyderabad, 31% and 28% of those surveyed said they had been sexually harassed. Around 38% of the respondents across seven cities in India said that in today’s workplaces, ” men are as vulnerable to sexual harassment is as women”. It is happening all over the world with men, women, transgenders, by employers, employees, police officials, family members being only few of them.

Out of a large pool of women who say that they have witnessed sexual harassment, there is a very small percentage who actually report it. Reasons for this range from the fear of their boss to worrying about their reputation to blaming themselves for it. Recently when the #MeToo hashtag went viral all over social media, thousands of people came forward to tell their story of sexual harassment and raise awareness and provide support to victims of the same.

Talking about professional life, harassment can take many forms in a workplace. If sex discrimination forces women into lower-paying jobs, sexual harassment helps keep them there. When sexual advances are made, they are often not reported to keep from being fired, demoted or adversely affected at work. A person who has been sexually harassed often tends to feel self-worthlessness and blames herself.

A report conducted jointly by the TUC and Everyday Sexism found that 52% of women had experienced some form of sexual harassment at work, nearly a quarter had been touched without invitation, a fifth had experienced a sexual advance.

The Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013 is a legislative act in India that is for protecting women from sexual harassment at their workplace.

Those who come forward to take an action are also sometimes not taken seriously. The recent outpouring of complaints from women about mistreatment in the workplace has included numerous accounts of being ignored, stymied or retaliated against by human resources units- accounts that portray them as part of the problem, not the solution.

Also, sexual harassment faced by men is not even taken into consideration. An article on The Hindu outlined many instances of sexual harassment faced by Indian men including stalking, sexual harassment at workplace and sexual assault. Male victims of sexual harassment don’t only are deprived of a proper legal procedure, but also lack emotional and mental support from their friends, peers and family. Sexual harassment faced by men in India is still a huge taboo. This is also a major reason why a large fraction does not complain or report the crime.

Another important case was of Air India in 2012 when an employee working at the IGI Airport in Delhi complained against a senior Air India official, accusing him of sexually harassing her. On investigation conducted by the police, it was found that the employee’s complaint to the general manager was ignored and even after further procedures, no action was taken.

Now comes the question about how to deal with sexual harassment, whether it is in the workplace or in a personal sphere. The first and most important step is acknowledging the crime. Unless and until the crime is recognized by the victim and harasser, and is accepted and wrong, there’s no scope for any justice. Unacceptance of this fact only leads to further wrongdoing by the harasser to other people.

The second step is to talk to the person who has committed the crime and tell them that they’d be reported for their wrongdoing and ensure that they also accept their wrongdoing. The third step is to inform the authorities or supervisor and file a complaint using the internal procedure provided to do so. Post this, the organization should help the person who filed a complaint. All incidences should be reported to the senior and a detailed letter should be written, indicating the same. The HR team of the organization should help the complainant regarding the procedure and the action that should be taken regarding the sexual harassment incidents. If the supervisor is refusing to take an action, the senior management should be contacted. If none of these methods work, then the police should be contacted immediately. It should be reported, whatsoever, since our constitution provides us with a large number of laws against sexual harassment. If in a professional environment, other victims should be found out, since they might also be living with the same trauma and fear that one has faced themselves.

Sexual harassment is a punishable offence which, under no circumstances, should be ignored. It is like a chain or a loop and if not stopped or fought against, will keep on continuing.

Dispute Resolution

Mediation – Need of the Hour

Mediation is a process of third-party involvement in a dispute. A mediator cannot impose an outcome but rather assists the disputing parties in reaching their own agreement.

Mediation can be used in a wide range of disputes, including labor disputes, public policy disputes, disagreements among nations, family disputes, and neighborhood and community quarrels.

According to research, about 80% of dispute mediations lead to resolution.

The Six Leadership Styles – As Defined by Daniel Goleman

Leadership is, most fundamentally, about changes. What leaders do is create the systems and organizations that managers need, and, eventually, elevate them up to a whole new level or . . . change in some basic ways to take advantage of new opportunities.
—John P. Kotter

Leadership is about influence—the ability to influence your subordinates, your peers, and your bosses in a work or organizational context. Without influence, it is impossible to be a leader. Of course, having influence means that there is a greater need on the part of leaders to exercise their influence ethically.

Leadership operates in groups. This means that leadership is about influencing a group of people who are engaged in a common goal or purpose.

Leadership includes the achievement of goals. Therefore, leadership is about directing a group of people toward the accomplishment of a task or the reaching of an endpoint through various ethically based means. Leaders direct their energies and the energies of their followers to the achievement of something together. Thus, leadership occurs in, as well as affects, contexts where people are moving in the direction of a goal.

Leaders and followers share objectives. Leadership means that leaders work with their followers to achieve objectives that they all share. Establishing shared objectives that leaders and followers can coalesce around is difficult but worth the effort. Leaders who are willing to expend time and effort in determining appropriate goals will find these goals achieved more effectively and easily if followers and leaders work together. Leader-imposed goals are generally harder and less effectively achieved than goals developed together.

Dispute Resolution

Exploring Mediation

Is going to court the best way out for any legal matter? Or, is there a better alternative? And how will the legal industry look like in the next 5 years? Let’s find out in this special feature where Prerna Foundation and KyaBae come together, with our host, Parzaan Dastur interviewing Mr. Prathamesh D. Popat.
Sexual Harassment

Sexual Harassment at Workplace

Consent– the permission or agreement to engage in any kind of activity along with the liberty to say yes or no at any point of time. Consent plays a very significant role in immensely important issues like sexual harassment. Any form of unwelcome, inappropriate sexual behaviour that is offensive or humiliating whether physical, verbal or written is termed as sexual harassment.

Largely, it has been assumed that sexual harassment happens only to women. But according to a survey conducted by the Association of Women for Action and Research (AWARE), 79% of the victims were women and 21% were men. This issue isn’t restricted to any gender, community, type of workplace or any other basis. It is prevalent everywhere and needs to be considered for the safety of every individual going out of their homes to work.
As per the Vishaka Guidelines laid down by the Supreme Court of India, sexual harassment includes any unwelcome sexually determined behaviour (whether directly or by implication):

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

Sexual harassment at workplace involves employer, employee, supervisor, colleagues, customers or anyone else connected with attending a workplace. Volunteers, interns, members of industrial organizations, qualifying bodies, all are covered by law. In most cases, individuals do not report the cases of sexual harassment because of fear of retaliation by harasser or losing job and professional status or reputation. Ensuring a safe workplace would not only increase the participation of the population in the work force but also provide them with a sense of dignity and power towards themselves, assuring them that they are protected by the law. Another important issue is the acknowledgement of the harassment since many victims think that it is something that can be resolved personally without understanding the magnitude of the issue thus only giving rise to this offence.

Threatening a person about the destruction of their career if the sexual advances aren’t returned or taking a jib at their image in the office are some common scenarios faced by individuals.

According to section 354A, sexual harassment is unwelcome physical contact and advances, including unwanted and explicit sexual overtures, a demand or request for sexual favours, showing someone sexual images (pornography) without their consent, and making unwelcome sexual remarks. The punishment is up to three years in prison and a fine.

An extremely important law in India regarding the issue is Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013. It defines sexual harassment at workplace, creates a mechanism for redressal of complaints. The Act also covers concepts of ‘quid pro quo harassment’ and ‘hostile work environment’ as forms of sexual harassment if it occurs relating to an act or behaviour of sexual harassment. The Act goes much further to include organisations, department, office, branch unit etc. in the public and private sector, organized and unorganized, hospitals, nursing homes, educational institutions, sports institutes, stadiums, sports complex and any place visited by the employee during the course of employment including the transportation. Even non-traditional workplaces which involve tele-commuting are covered under this law. Also, every employer is required to constitute an Internal Complaints Committee at each office or branch with 10 or more employees.

The first step while dealing with sexual harassment at work includes saying no– making the harasser aware that what they’re doing is wrong and unwelcome. The second and most important step is reporting the harassment to the employer or anyone else who has the power to stop it. A written form of communication is always more preferable to keep a proof of all the proceedings if anyone decides to deny doing or saying anything in the future. Writing down everything that happened in detail is important so that nothing is missed out, details aren’t bantered with. Keeping a record of your work records/performances and talking to others to find other people who might’ve faced something similar.

Every company has some guidelines and procedures including committee required under law, and company setups can be used for escalating sexual harassment complaints. Other tools like mediation are also offered by some companies that offer a resolution. Statistics show that 80% of mediations lead to resolution.

Sexual harassment need not necessarily occur only between opposite sexes, or only to women. It also does not always happen that an employee is harassed by the employer or the co-worker. The reverse case can also happen and there are proper laws for that.

It can disrupt the working environment, cause the withdrawal of workers from an organization, traumatize them to a large extent. No reason can make sexual harassment acceptable, especially in any area of work. It should be fought back and stopped at as early stage as possible. Most importantly, apart from personal agony to sufferers, sexual harassment hampers motivation, focus and ability to concentrate on work and deliver results, the basic aim or any employee – employer relationship and consequently reduces efficiency of organisation.