How to File a Sexual Harassment Complaint?
In India, the problem of sexual harassment at the workplace is increasingly coming out of the closet. The basic reason behind almost all types of harassment or violence against women lies in our society’s patriarchal structure itself. In addition to being abusive and unfair, sexual harassment at the workplace is also seen as an unconstitutional infringement of the fundamental rights of women. Workplace Harassment is inappropriate or unwelcome conduct from a boss, co-worker, group of workers, or customer whose actions, communications or behavior demeans or ridicules an employee.
Interfering with a worker’s capability to do his or her work also is considered to be a form of harassment. Harassment becomes illegal when the behavior is severe and pervasive enough to create a work environment that any reasonable individual would find intimidating, hostile, and abusive.
There are certain laws relating to workplace harassment that are laid down under the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act 2013 or the POSH Act, each verbal and non-verbal conduct will account as sexual harassment. Specifically, the penal provisions and the punishment awarded for this offense are given under The Indian Penal Code, 1860.
According to data published by the “Ministry of Women and Child Development”, there has been a rapid increase in the number of sexual misconduct cases registered in the workplace. A complaint should be brought to the “Internal Complaints Committee” within 3 months of the incident. However, that time frame is extendable in certain circumstances.
Steps to File a Sexual Harassment Complaint-
- Note down the time, location, and nature of the incident on a piece of paper.
- Write every date along with the day, on which it happened.
- Try to remember the names of possible witnesses of the incident and note them down.
- Possible witnesses may include- friends, colleagues, a family member, a child, a watchman, CCTV cameras, a passerby, a waiter, a sweeper, any ongoing phone-call, etc.
- Try to keep maximum evidence of the incident. For example, text messages, phone calls, images, e-mails, etc.
- Report the incident to your human resource department, supervisor or the head of the department in written form as well as orally, as soon as possible.
- Make sure that the harassment report is documented in your employee.
- If your harasser is your human resource head or supervisor, report the complaint to another high-ranking individual or team.
According to the ruling of Vishakha Judgment,
- It is a prime duty of the employer to assure the security of his women employees.
- An Awareness program must be organized at different intervals and female employees must be encouraged to take part in these programs.
- A separate sexual harassment filing complaint cell must be established in every company in the country.
- Any act of harassment results in the initiation of criminal proceedings against the harasser.
- Essential steps must be taken in support of the victim as early as possible.
Though, it’s a quite tough job to face harassment in your personal life, and more difficult is the acceptance of the incident before the world. But it is our right and duty to report any such happening to punish the perpetrator and forbid him from daring to do it ever again in his whole life.
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