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Recently, the Government of India passed the Sexual Harassment act for women at the workplace, 2013. This act protects women from unwanted sexual harrasment at the workplace and makes them aware of the various signs of harassment which they should look out for so that they can protect themselves. We should have had this act in place long time back, starting from the time when companies started hiring women as a part of their workforce. Better late than never, at least now we have a forum which helps women cope up with their survival at a male dominated workplace. No matter how much we say, there is a long list of legalities which needs to be completed before one is successfully able to file a case. It might be a tedious procedure to get your way through but this act is definitely a step in the right direction.
According to a Report by FICCI-EY, 2015 report, 36% of Indian companies and 25% among MNCs are not compliant with the Sexual Harassment Act, 2013. That means the companies are not doing their share of work, which is affecting the gender ratio at the workplace to quite an extent. Women should know that its not always that harassment is always directed from someone with power only so as to barter it with some promotional benefits or other incentives at the workplace. But, the reality is that harassment can come from a person with no power or with less power was well, like from a subordinate employee. Women need to recognise these lewd signs and take strong steps towards preventing them.
Sexual harassment covers a broad spectrum of signs which covers making obscene gestures to stalking to touching in an inappropriate way. It’s sad that some women do not stand up against such harassment thinking that this might affect their survival at the workplace or turn out to be a disadvantage when they are selected for promotions or benefitting from incentives. But women don’t realise that by saving themselves from a future disadvantage, they are creating an unsafe environment for all the other women at the workplace. By not standing up, they are just giving a free pass to these men to use their power, status and dominant nature to fulfil their own selfish and cheap wants.
Some women might also use the harassment situation to their biggest advantage. By letting themselves be continually harassed, they believe that they can climb up the highest ladder to success. But is it worth it ? Is it worth selling your self respect and integrity for something which has a temporary foundation of a series of inappropriate wants from your boss, which you agreed to settle for ? Don’t be a silent victim of an act which challenges your self worth because thats not the correct path.
Shout out your problems so that the other women can also come out of their shyness bubble and be courageous enough to stand up against any uncomfortable situation at the workplace.
Apart from the Sexual Harassment act, companies should put into place a mandatory sexual harassment committee and an internal forum which is meant to resolve issues which women face at the workplace in their day to day routine. This will not only help the women feel secure but also improve their rate of retention which a problem in the indian society considering the various societal pressures of family and marriage. This committee should be responsible for discussing any acts of harassment witnessed by women and helping them deal with them in a practical manner.
Some women might pose a false alarm just to attract attention and get sympathy from her fellow colleagues. In this situation, people will always be on the woman’s side which is unfair to the male colleague and could turn out to be his worst nightmare. He could lose his job and reputation at the workplace for something he did not even commit. In this scenario also, the sexual harassment committee should consider both sides of the story and come to a fair decision because the woman here might be playing the “sympathy” card.
The day women feel completely secure at the workplace, more women will join the workforce and our economy will witness a sharp upward trend towards building a progressive society. Indian women contribution to India’s GDP is quite low if compared to the global average of 37%, which is the lowest among all the studied regions. Also, according to a recent research conducted, If Indian women participated in the economy on equal terms with men, it will shoot up the productivity rates while removing the current gaps in labour participation rates, the number of hours worked and even the representation within different sectors.
So, don’t sit on your desk listening to a male chauvinist degrade your self worth, rather work towards building a support group which can help you fight such circumstances with utmost courage.