Continued from the previous post ‘Sexual Harassment Act : Anniversary Update‘…
Increase in the number of cases of sexual harassment:
Further, Times of India, recently reported that as most of the companies fail to comply with `Sexual Harassment Act 2013′ and take rare interest in establishing the mandatory Internal Complaints Committee, cases of workplace harassment in Gujarat have witnessed a 59% rise in past one year. As per data received from Gujarat State Women Commission (GSWC), 73 complaints of workplace harassment (verbal, mental and physical) were received between March and November, 2015 as compared to 46 in 2014-15. As rightly pointed out by GSWC chairperson Ms Leela Ankoliya, it appears that the rise in the number of complaints is not due to sudden spike in such incidents, it appears to be the result of increased awareness among women. Times article stated that “increase in number of cases mean more women are becoming aware of the law and shedding their inhibitions to raise voice against injustice. It also means that women are breaking the social barriers that prevent them from confronting the opposite sex. Besides, our commission also attempts to connect with working women through social media. We also conduct seminars in all the districts of the state and spread awareness about harassment at work place among all,” Ms Leela Ankoliya said. It also reported that harassment complaints may also be registered at 1800-233-1111.
Sexual Harassment and domestic workers:
Also, recently, the Montfort Social Institute (MSI) city advisory committee convener and senior journalist D Gopi underlined the need for establishing a union for domestic workers to press their genuine demands. Speaking at a seminar organized by the MSI to highlight the demands of domestic workers and to mark the Human Rights Day here on Thursday, Gopi said that household work has never been considered work in our society and they are also subjected to sexual harassment at work and their hard work is seldom recognized.
Suggestion of amendment to the Sexual Harassment Act:
The Indian Express reported that the Kerala State Higher Education Council (KSHEC) has recommended that the government might consider an amendment to the Sexual Harassment on Women at Work place (Prevention) Act to include protection to women and girls on campuses, rather than bringing in a new and separate act. It reported that only 19 complaints were filed with police between January 2010 and May 2015, and criminal cases were registered on all the complaints. In addition, 37 cases were registered based on oral complaints and emails. The committee found that in 60% of the gender/sexual harassment-related cases reported on campuses, the accused were either male teachers or male staff of the institution. In the rest of the cases, co-students/workers were involved.
ICC in Gurgaon:
Times of India reported that the district administration of Gurgaon formed an ICC to keep tabs on the cases of sexual harassment at workplaces. The committee will ensure that all organisations, be they offices or educational institutions, have an ICC in place to deal with the issue. It reported that the decision seems to have been made after the district administration had asked all offices, educational institutions to share the data on sexual harassment. They received 400 replies which revealed that 8% of organisations had reported cases of sexual harassment till September this year, while 63% admitted they were aware of the guidelines. But 5% said they had not taken any initiative on this front.
That’s it for this year!