The guarantee of equal protection cannot mean one thing when applied to one
individual and something else when applied to a person of another color. If
both are not accorded the same protection, then it is not equal. – Lewis F.
There are numerous enactments occupying the field pertaining to protection
welfare and empowerment of women on account of illiteracy, immortality, radical
change in the Indian societies on over all rapid and effective westernization of
Indian. The problem relating to women are being mushroomed. The parliament in
its part legislated various exclusive statutes to deal with the harassment,
cruelty and cases of molestation against women.
India is a country in the world were women regarded as goddess on the other
hand the male dominated Indian society apparently lost its cultural beauty and
as a result women are subjected to ill-treatment in and out of her house.
Sexual harassment is a serious problem for women workers. There is extensive
anecdotal evidence indicating its pervasiveness, but it remains hidden by the
veil of silence surrounding the issue.1
In India report suggest that women who report about sexual harassment are
victimized and blamed and stigmatized and continuing in the work place are
affected. So they seem to be silent of being loosing their job. Urban educated
seek legal assistance from women’s group and refuse to reveal the names of those
who harass her in the public. Urban educated working women is strong independent
person who is aware of her rights under the law the police instead of protecting
the rights as citizens worker or women threaten to turn its frightening power
Local community assistants will not be obtainable and it will be
firmly in favor of the boys. So in this context we are forced to ask under what
economic and social condition does the directions given by the supreme court
will be use full to the working women. So when no effective legal or social
redress is any longer available no rules and regulations cannot provide any
help. Sexual Harassment of women at the workplace as not considered as specific
offence till the time Apex court of India gave the land mark judgment in
Vishakha V State of Rajasthan laying down specific guidelines and giving
directions to employers to have sexual harassment policy in the workplace and to
consider sexual harassment as a serious offence.
What Law says?
Indian penal code defines sexual harassment as any word, gesture or act intended
to insult the modesty of a women and which is heard or seen is an offence and is
punishable with simple imprisonment and/or a fine. Prior to 1997 Sexual
harassment was dealt with section 354, 509 of IPC, the sections did not
specifically define the act, words are gestures which amounts to the offence of
sexual harassment it was left to the whims and fancies of the person deciding
the case. In 1997 in the realm of judicial interpretation the object sexual
harassment women of working women was named and defined in
Vishakha. and others
v. union of India.3
The Vishakha ruling noted the lack of existing civil and
penal laws for the specific protection of women from sexual harassment at places
of work. In the absence of appropriate legislation, the Court took a proactive
stand by issuing a set of guidelines to be followed by all institutions until
appropriate legislation was enacted. 4 Though Honorable supreme court gave
directions to curb the offence of sexual harassment of women in workplace the
legislation came up after 16 years of above mentioned Judgment. In 2013 Sexual
Harassment of Women at work Place (Prevention, prohibition and Redressal Act was
passed). This statute superseded the Vishakha guidelines for prevention of
sexual harassment introduced by the supreme court of India it was reported by
the international labour organization that very few Indian Employers were
compliant to this statute.The government has threatened to take stern action
against employers who fail to comply with this law.
Sexual harassment results in violation of fundamental rights of a women to
equality under Art 14 and 15 of the constitution of India and her right to life
and to live with dignity under article 21 of the constitution and right to
practice any profession or to carry on any occupation trade or business which
includes the right to safe environment free from sexual harassment. This Act
talks about different ways in which someone can be sexually harassed and how
they can complaint against this kind of behaviour. The definition of aggrieved
women who will get protection and the Act is wider to cover all women
irrespective of the age or employment status whether in organized or unorganized
sectors public or private and covers clients, customers and domestic workers
penalties have been prescribed for employers.
For any sexual harassment law to be successful in India, it is important to be
aware of the difficulties confronting our society and ways to over come them. We
all know that India is a patriarchal society and most cases of sexual harassment
remain and reported. Women are reluctant to compliant and prefer silence due to
lack of sensitivity on the part of Indian society. There is a need to gender –
sensitize our society so that victim does not feel guilty and is encouraged to
report any form of harassment. The victims privacy must be protected. The
police and judiciary in particular need to be gender sensitized. There should be
speedy reddresal and an increase in the conviction rate.
Women themselves should
be made aware of the right to a safe and harassment free work environment. The
concept and definition of sexual harassment should be clearly laid down and the
reddresal mechanism made known to women in each and every sector of the economy.
Despite the judgment in Vishakha case.6 and the new legislation there is no
sexual harassment committee in work places so the court must direct the work
places to form sexual harassment committee. Government can order an officer to
inspect work place and record related to sexual harassment in any organization.
Enacting progressive laws will not change the situation. The efficacy of law
will be under mined ‘blaming the victim’ in cases of sexual harassment or not
transformed. Women cannot expect legal or police protection if the authorities
assume ‘guilt or moral laxity’on the part of women complaints so it is time to
go be on ideology and theory in the world of praxis, the world of greater
hardship for women who sacrifices their identity communication and hopes in
society dominated by male values so what is needed is recognition of ‘ women’s
Though the Act has its own loopholes it brought about a paradigm shift in the
work culture of work places. The Act created the healthy and safe environment
for women to work and be successful. The employers by adhering to the sexual
harassment act and by enacting a policy for the organization and company can
bring a tremendous change in the work place by curbing the offence of sexual
harassment training the employees and spreading the legal awareness employees
can do away with numerous cases which often or ignore by the employers or were
women prefer leaving the job because of the social taboos or pressure. Only if
we educate and empower women our country can progress.
But in the present day
context, the human rights violations are taking place especially with reference
to women all over the country. To sustain gender equality and empowerment of
women both at the national and international level, committed initiatives and
policies are needed. If everyone involved does the their bit then the menace of
sexual harassment can be rooted out completely from all our work places.
insecurity and violence facilitated by a lack of justice or legal frame work
prevents women’s participation in rebuilding the nations. The sense of security
at the workplace will improve women’s participation in work, resulting in their
economic empowerment and intensive growth. I wish this paper will derive
practical solutions in the existing scenario.
1. Women and criminal law Dr. SC Tripathi.
2. http/www flonnet com/fl1502/15021340.htm.
3. Constitutional development through Judicial process by Prof. G. Manoher
4. http//www/people matters.in.
5. constitutional Development through Judicial Process 2006 Edition.
6. AIR 1977 SC 3011.