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“Sexual harassment is a sexual pressure that one is not in a position to refuse, it is deliberate, or repeated sexual behaviour that is unwelcome. It is about male privilege and dominance.” –Sexual Harassment:
Women Speak Out
This captures the essence ofthe concept of Sexual Harassment. It is defined in Section 2(n)of the Act as includes any one or more of the following unwelcome acts or behaviour (whether directly or by implication) namely:
The Hon’ble Supreme Court in case of Vishaka & Ors vs State Of Rajasthan &Ors also stated about sexual harassment as -“Each such incident results in violation of the fundamental rights of ‘Gender Equality’ and the ‘Right of Life and Liberty’. It is clear violation of the rights under Articles 14, 15 and 21 of Constitution. One of the logical consequences of such an incident is also the violation of the victim’s fundamental right under Article 19(1)(g) ‘to practice any profession or to carry out any occupation, trade or business’. Such violations, therefore, attract the remedy under Article 32 for the enforcement of these fundamental rights of women. This class action under Article 32 of the Constitution is for this reason. A writ of mandamus in such a siltation, if it is to be effective, needs to be accompanied by directions for prevention; as the violation of fundamental rights of this kind is a recurring phenomenon.
The fundamental right to carry on any occupation, trade or profession depends on the availability of a “safe” working environment. Right to life means life with dignity. The primary responsibility for ensuring such safety and dignity through suitable legislation, and the creation of a mechanism for its enforcement, is of the legislature and the executive. When, however, instances of sexual harassment resulting in violation of fundamental rights of women workers under Articles 14, 19 and 21 are brought before us for redress under Article 32, an effective redressal requires that some guidelines should be laid down for the protection of these rights to fill the legislative vacuum.”
Sexual Harassment is an act of power and public and collective violation is trivialised by labelling it an interpersonal transgression. It is thus a violation of gender equality and also, of the right to a safe education and work environment for all.
The Act was enacted to provide protection against sexual harassment of women at workplace and for the prevention and redressal of complaints of sexual harassment and for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto. It aims to achieve better cooperation from females to meet the demands of modernization of standard of living, education and other social needs. To ensure full utilization of female intellectual force we need to provide them safe workplace as needed in the modern world.
It also provides dictionary for words used, the words of the statute are themselves precise and unambiguous then no can be necessary than to expound those words in their ordinary sense and natural sense especially, defining the word employee, employer, what constitutes as sexual harassment and other important terms. The Act in detail elaborate about how a sexual harassment complaint has to be dealt by the organisation in the form of constituting ICC (Internal Complaint Committee) and what to be done if accused found guilty or when found innocent. It conferred upon the Employer certain obligation towards his employees to provide the conducive and safe working environment. District Officer’s duties and obligation have been enlisted in the statute. Also, the Act to ensure accountability of proper reporting of the complaints in various workplace. It mandates for every workplace to submit annual report about the cases of sexual harassment reported at the workplace. Moreover, it punishes the workplace who do not follow the guidelines, the provision enlists the same.
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