While serious law-non-bailable offence is the need of the hour, it should also be taken into consideration that law enforcement agencies work efficiently and diligently in that direction. The Act was enacted to ensure a safe working environment for women. It provides for protection to women at their workplace from any form of sexual harassment and for redressal of any complaints they may have launched. Nowadays the sexual harassment at workplace is an unlawful act which has been spreading like a wildfire for quite a while now. The mammoth truth also remains that more than half the women percentage of our country, till date, are not very clear about the legal mechanism against combating sexual harassment at workplace.
People also need to come out with determination against such evils and not be a moot spectator wherein a daughter, or a sister, or a wife, or a mother is crying for alms. The fact that the victims of sexual harassment have a law, which was created with the sole intent to hear them out, made a huge difference and brought a much needed respite for the women in workplaces. There is still no proper mechanism in place to address the complaints of sexual harassment of women lawyers in Bar Associations, lady doctors and nurses in the medical clinics and nursing homes, women architects working in offices of the engineers and architects and so on and so forth. Such a ruling will gladden the hearts of many professional women who have learnt the art of swallowing the nonsense they experience at work that is often dismissed as harmless “teasing”. Yes, “eve-teasing” is sexual harassment.
The problem is not the law. It is those who ignore it; those who break it; and those, including the government, who give it “lip service”, in the words of the Supreme Court. It is the responsibility of the employer to provide a safe work space for women. This is not only a legal obligation, but is also required for the growth of the organization. Despite increased public awareness, sexual harassment continues to plague Indian workplaces. We need something else which legislation cannot provide — the mindset to understand the fears, compulsions, and pressures on women victims. The sexual harassment law does not permit settlement on condition of payment of monetary compensation, but does allow settlement involving an adverse entry in the employee’s record book as well as deduction from his dues. We talk about equal treatment to all irrespective of gender but sadly this lesson is just to be read in books and it is a distant image when it could actually turn to be a reality. The need of the hour is to change the social attitude towards women and force a comprehensive change in our outlook and thinking regarding women. We need to focus more on this problem, because a lot of men still don’t take it seriously, it happens, because they don’t know the real definition of sexual harassment.
(The views expressed by the author in the article are his/her own.)