Sexual Harassment and #metoo Movement in India

Sexual offences and the Indian Criminal Law:

Sexual offences can be classified into four categories as rape, molestation, forced prostitution, female genital mutilations, etc. In regard with the sections i.e. section 294, 354, 354A, 354B, 354C, 354D, 375, 376, 376A, 376B, 376C, 376D.

However, according to the Criminal Law, the changing control of Sexual crimes, with particular regard to the criminological dimensions with the amendment made after the Nirbhaya case of 2013 under the Criminal Law (Amendement) Act, 2013, it expands the definition of Rape. The year 2013 also bring up an important Act against the harassment faced by the female workers in their work place.

Sexual harassment is a common problem irrespective of the profession. The emergence of sexual harassment as a wrong and as a form of discrimination against women i.e. male dominance over women as to remind that they are the weaker gender, was so articulated by the Supreme Court of India in the case of Visakha V. State of Rajasthan (Visakha case, 1997) where the inefficiency of section 354 of the IPC to address appropriately the claims of sexual harassment led to file the petition before the Supreme Court in 1997. Where it was held that it was clear violation of Article 14, Article 15 and Article 21 of the constitution. Cause sexual harassment is an uninvited or unwelcome sexual favor or gestures from opposite gender, which definitely feels humiliated, offended and insulted.

Sexual Harassment and the laws entrenched:

Sexual Harassment is also termed as eve-teasing in India, as it can be in form of indicative or typical comments, uninvited touch, sexually blunt pictures, and obscene text messages. Which will certainly violates the Fundamental Right provided under the Ar.14 i.e. right for gender equality and the right to life and to live a dignified right under Ar.21. Ar.15 prohibits the discrimination on grounds of religion, caste and gender.

According to Justice Arjit Pasayat “while a murderer destroys the physical frame of the victim, on the other hand the rapist defiles the soul of a helpless female. Thus the sexual harassment also infringe the fundamental right under the Ar.19(1)(g) “to practice any profession or to carry out the occupation, trade or business” and as remedy it attracts Ar.32. But in accordance to the same there were no specific provision so provided in the IPC which may provides protection to women against the sexual harassment though (Rashid) section 294 deals with obscene acts and songs at public place, and section 509 deals with uttering words or making gestures which out rages a women’s modesty.

By the case of Visakha V. State of Rajasthan (Visakha case, 1997) Supreme Court put forward various guidelines which was subjected to all workplaces until any other legislation is passed by the parliament in regard to the same issue to avoid such situations and bring up a safe working environment for women. The main objective of Supreme Court was to ensure gender equality amid people and no discrimination towards women.

Lately, the parliament passed a law to address the arising issue of sexual harassment in various workplaces. By December 7,2010 the Bill was so introduced in Lok Sabha which was drew based on the judgment passed in 1997 by Supreme Court in the leading case of Visakha where the term sexual harassment was collided for the very first time as stated earlier above.

The Bill was first passed by Lok Sabha on 3rd September 2011, which was assimilated with some amendments so recommended by the standing Committee on Health Resource Development. Under whom the bill was so examined. Rajya Sabha passed the same on February 27th of 2013, without any new recommendation for amendments. And thus by 22nd April 2013 the SEXUAL HARASSMENT OF WOMEN AT WORKPLACE (PREVENTION, PROHIBITION AND REDRESSAL) ACT, 2013 came into existence.

#METOO MOVEMENT EFFECTS:

At international level when the American Actress Alyssa Milano used the term #metoo on social media by the year 2017 for exposing the story against a film producer. After this her tweet got immense response and got flooded all over the social media platform (Pflum, 2018). Though the movement achieved its global recognition by 2017 but the #metoo movement had began by the year of 2006. The founder of this movement Tarana Bruke is an American Activist who started this at New York to raise awareness of those who had been abused. The same gained its popularity in India by 2018, when Tanushree Dutta shared a controversial story on social media against her co-worker Mr.Nana Patekar while shooting for the film of 2008 ‘Horn ok please’. After #metoo movement erupted by 2017 where millions of fighters posted their experiences on social media with hastag to publicize their accounts of such gender biased violence.

Rebecca John a Delhi based lawyer stated that,“The factory worker, the domestic worker, and the construction worker we have not even recognized the fact that they are sexually harassed and assaulted on a daily basis, but poverty leaves them no choice, they know whatever they are earning is far more important to them.”

The #metoo movement has both positive and negative impact on society. As India enacted the sexual harassment of women at workplace (prevention, prohibition and redressal) act 2013. To protect workers but in reality it only existed on papers. The Government enforcement of this law was so poor that even is the Banwari Devi case had happened today then even it would have been quite hard to get the justice for the same.

And there this #metoo movement had supported women to feel confident about being heard which made them realize the strength and power against the patriarchal society forward from the time of manusmriti, and thus being treated equally. With this #metoo movement several states and countries had passed legislations to restrict the use of agreement and confidentiality provision in sexual harassment and sexual abuse cases. Section 26 of the sexual harassment of women at workplace (prevention, prohibition and redressal) Act 2013, deals with penalty provision if found guilty of sexual harassment and it make compulsory to constitute an internal complaint committee at each branch by the employer.

Aishwarya Says:

I have always been against Glorifying Over Work and therefore, in the year 2021, I have decided to launch this campaign “Balancing Life”and talk about this wrong practice, that we have been following since last few years. I will be talking to and interviewing around 1 lakh people in the coming 2021 and publish their interview regarding their opinion on glamourising Over Work.

If you are interested in participating in the same, do let me know.

Do follow me on FacebookTwitter  Youtube and Instagram.

The copyright of this Article belongs exclusively to Ms. Aishwarya Sandeep. Reproduction of the same, without permission will amount to Copyright Infringement. Appropriate Legal Action under the Indian Laws will be taken.

If you would also like to contribute to my website, then do share your articles or poems at adv.aishwaryasandeep@gmail.com

We also have a Facebook Group Restarter Moms for Mothers or Women who would like to rejoin their careers post a career break or women who are enterpreneurs.

We are also running a series Inspirational Women from January 2021 to March 31,2021, featuring around 1000 stories about Indian Women, who changed the world. #choosetochallenge

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