SEXUAL HARASSEMENT OF WOMEN AT WORKPLACE :
IN LEGAL AS WELL AS PSYCHOLOGICAL PERSPECTIVE
In present scenarios, Sexual Harassment is one of the major social problems and destroys our society’s dignity and growth day by day. In this article, we will discuss about legal as well as psychological aspects of the term sexual harassment of women at workplace. In psychological analysis, Sexual harassment occurs when people are targets of unwelcome sexual comments, gestures and actions because of their perceived gender, gender expression or sexual orientation and similarly our legal system is also aware of women empowerment and has taken various judicial powers for preventive measures to reduce such crimes from our society. The Constitution of India provides equal rights to both men and women to enjoy equality for all opportunities. In the case of Vishaka vs. State of Rajasthan, the Supreme Court of India framed some exhaustive guidelines for its prevention. Apart from several existing legislative measures and judicial powers, such abusive acts have not decreased and are still neglected for enjoyment of their economic empowerment and facing sexual harassment in their workplace at global and as well as national level.
Sexual Harassment of women at working place is a menace across the world plunging the quality of work environment and causes endanger to the dignity and welfare of women. It is a form of gender-discrimination. Basically, the word Sexual Harassment is used in the pejorative sense as it is violates the constitutional rights of women. Sexual harassment is a pandemic throughout the society and its negative impact swallow individuals, groups and the entire organization. Mostly it is seen that fresh women graduates are targeted at the workplace as they are most vulnerable. They join various private sectors as trainees and higher authorities easily make them mutt for taking advantage by promising salary increment, permanent job, promotion etc and from these consequents, various problems may arise such as loss of job, dignity, social status, loss of confidence, uncomfortable work environment and sometimes loss of life.
In India if we rapidly discuss this, then we will see many more acute issues which paralyze our country’s growth. The pressing problem of our country includes various issues such as Unemployment, Casteism/Religious violence, Inflation, Corruption, Population, Red tapes, Sexual harassment of women etc. From earlier mentioned problems, Sexual harassment of women at working place is very important and a comprehensive issue from origin till date whether it is a developed nation or a developing nation or an underdeveloped nation.
The term “SEXUAL HARRASSEMENT” can be identified as a behavior or conduct of a human being. Generally it can be defined as an unacceptable behavior of sexual nature. Atrocities and brutality against women is a common thing everywhere. It is a huge problem as it gives negative impact to both men and women. Most of the time, it is seen to be happening more with female gender as they are considered to be unprotected and weaker than other genders. It is a widespread problem in the world which is very difficult to control.
Sexual harassment is a severe and a pervasive problem. It is very difficult to understand this concept and define it as it involves a range of behaviors. Even in this situation, sometimes victims find it difficult from what they experienced because it is a sensitive issue in our society. The term “Harassment” includes unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors and other verbal or physical conduct of sexual nature. It is an unaccepted sexual behavior which could be expected to make a person feel humiliated and offended. The nature of this harassment can be verbal, physical or written.
FORMS OF SEXUAL HARASSEMENT
Sexual harassment at workplace are classified into two types such as Quid Pro Quo and Hostile Work Environment.
QUID PRO QUO
Quid pro quo” means “this for that”. In this context, it involves expressed or implied demands for sexual favors or making sexual advances in exchange or benefits at work such as- promotion, pay increase etc. or to avoid some detriment like- termination, demotion etc. in the workplace.
HOSTILE WORK ENVIRONMENT
Hostile work environment involves undesirable and unwelcome behavior or conduct whether it is verbal, non- verbal, visual or physical which create uncomfortable and disturbing work environment for a worker to be there..
The Supreme Court of India defined Sexual Harassment which includes unwelcome sexually determined behavior whether directly or by implication as : -
< >Gender Discrimination.Obscene or offensive gestures Harassment.Physical Harassment.Request for sexual favors.Unwelcome touching or grabbing.Showing Pornography.Actual or attempted Rape of sexual assault.Kissing sounds, howling and smacking lips etc.
LEGAL ASPECTS OF SEXUAL HARASSEMENT
Sexual Harassment is an offensive act which could be making a person not only criminal but also reduce the confidence level of the victim to face society and fight against such unlawful acts. The Constitution of India laid down several articles which clearly protect basic rights of women and so has our judicial system gained power to take actions against such punishable offences.
The Constitution of India on Sexual Harassment
The Constitution of India provides equal rights and opportunities to both men and women. Sexual Harassment clearly violates basic fundamental rights of women such as Right to Equality before law for women under Article 14, Right against discrimination on grounds of sex, caste etc under Article 15(1), Special provision in favors of women and children under Article 15(3), Equality of opportunity regarding employment or appointment to any office under Article 16, Right to Life under Article 21(4), Right to practice any profession and carry on any business, trade or occupation under Article 21(5) etc and these provisions includes right to safe environment free from sexual harassment.
Indian Penal Code on Sexual Harassment
After the gang rape case of Nirbhaya in 2012, the Criminal Law (Amendment) Act, 2013 were made to lay down stringent punishments to deal with sex crimes against women which is popularly known as “The Nirbhaya Act” or “The Anti-Rape Act”. This new Act amends the following:-
< >The Indian Penal Code, 1806Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973The Indian Evidence act, 1872Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012.
Assault or criminal force to women with the intention to outrage her modesty.
Imprisonment of either description for a term which may be extended to 2 years or with fine or both.
INSERTION OF NEW SECTIONS
1.Section 354 A
(I)Sexual Harassment of the nature of
unwelcome physical contact and
advances or demand or request for
sexual favors, showing pornography.
(II) Making sexually colored remarks.
(I)Imprisonment which may
extend to 3 years or with fine
(II) Imprisonment extend to 1 year or
fine or with both.
2. Section 354 B
Assault or use of criminal force with
intent to disrobe.
Imprisonment not less than 3 years but
extend to 7 years and with fine.
3. Section 354 C
(I)Imprisonment not less than 1 years
and with fine for conviction.
(II) Imprisonment not less than 3 years
but which extend to 7 years and with
4.Section 354 D
(I)Imprisonment up to 3 years and with
fine for 1st conviction.
(II) Imprisonment up to 5 years and
with fine for 2nd or subsequent
Rigorous imprisonment not less than 7
years but which extend to imprisonment
for life with fine.
Rape by Police/public Servant/member
of amend forced /staff of jail / person on
the management/staff of hospitals/
Rigorous imprisonment not less than
10years but which may extend to
Imprisonment for life and with fine.
Section 376 A
Person committing an offence of rape
and inflicting injury which causes death
or causes the women to be in a persistent
Rigorous imprisonment not less than
20 years but which may extend to
Imprisonment for life and with fine.
Section 376 B
Sexual intercourse by husband upon his
wife during separation.
Imprisonment for not less than 2
years but extend to 7 years and with
Section 376 C
Sexual intercourse by a person in
Rigorous imprisonment not less than 5
years but which extend to 10 years
and with fine.
Section 376 D
Rigorous Imprisonment not less than 20
years, but which extend to
imprisonment for life and with fine.
Section 376 E
Imprisonment for life or with death.
Word, gesture or act intended to insult
the modesty of a woman.
Shall be punished with simple
imprisonment for a term which extend
to 3 years and with fine.
LANDMARK JUDGEMENTS OF SEXUAL HARASSMENTS IN INDIA
< >Tuka Ram And Anr Vs State of Maharashtra, AIR 1979 SC 185 (Mathura Case)Vishaka and Others vs. State of Rajasthan ( Bhanwari Devi Case)
PSYCHOLOGICAL ASPECTS OF SEXUAL HARASSEMENT
From a Psychological viewpoint, Sexual Harassment is a severe problem which disturbs the mental condition of the victim. It is a chronic stressor which puts the victimized employees under severe mental and physical traumas and restrains their workplace activities. They perceive mental health
consequences including depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorders, suicidal ideations, adjustment disorders, phobic and somatoform disorders, stress, etc. Sexual Harassment erodes the victim’s confidence level and sense of safety and interferes with people’s performance and aspirations.
As per Global Peace Index 2017 Report (Financial Express news report dated. 26.02.2018), India is the 4th country where Sexual Harassment is a major issue. Despite all preventive steps taken by the Government, the grievous form of crime against women increases day by day. According to the National Crime Records Bureau, the crime clock against sexual harassment of women is 1 case every 53 minutes. In Hindustan Times Report 2015, over 4000 cases of murder, robbery and crime against women were disposed of by courts in 2014.
In a brief analysis of this article, we came to the conclusion that sexual harassment of women does not only violate the legal rights of women but also psychologically decreases their mental ability for better work performance towards the society. Overall, sexual harassment is a named and framed problem for our society although there still are several research questions to pursue.
< >Aggarwal, A., and M. Gupta. (2009) Sexual Harassment in the Workplace. Vancouver, BC:ButterworthsDr Charu Walikhanna (2009) “Law on Violence against Women”, Serials Publications, New Delhi.Sobha Saxena (2008) “Crimes against Women and Protective Laws”, Deep and Deep Publications Pvt. Ltd, New Delhi.Pandey, P.K., Sexual Harassment: A Crime Against Women (April 12, 2012).Singh, Priti, Sexual Harassment at Work Place (July 27, 2012)
-- Advocate RANJITA BISWAS, (B.A. LL.B)