Did you know that sexual harassment is not just an expression of sexual desire but that of oppression and hostility?
Twentieth century saw a spurt in the number of sexual harassment cases reported by individuals especially women but the figure is just the tip of the iceberg.
Fear of losing one's job or not being taken seriously by the management stop a victim from raising his/her voice against it. But one should know that silence will only encourage the harasser to continue.
It is time for you to stop being a victim and take action against the harasser.
In 1997, the Supreme Court (SC) in its famous judgement laid down what is known as the Vishakha guidelines to prevent sexual harassment at workplace. The SC clearly stated that these guidelines will have the force of law till a separate law on sexual harassment is passed by the Parliament. Almost ten years since the judgement, the draft bill on sexual harassment is still pending in the Parliament.
What is sexual harassment?
Sexual harassment includes such unwelcome sexually determined behaviour as:
- A demand or request for sexual favours
- Sexually coloured remarks
- Showing pornography
- Any other unwelcome physical, verbal or non verbal conduct of a sexual nature e.g. Leering, dirty jokes, sexual remark about a person’s body etc.
The victim of sexual harassment can be a male or a female. It is not only between an employer and employee but can also happen between colleagues.
Types of sexual harassment
There are two types of sexual harassment at workplace-
Quid-pro-quo- This is when the employer makes sex a pre- requisite to getting something in the workplace. For example, saying “If you sleep with me then your work will be done". These kind of conditions attached to one’s job jeopardizes the career of the employee.
Hostile environment- This is an environment where an employer (a superior or a colleague) does or says things that are uncomfortable and offensive to her as an individual. Sexual harassment does not need to include a demand for an exchange of sex for a job benefit. It is the creation of an uncomfortable environment.
I am being harassed at workplace by my boss/ colleague. What should I do?