Corporates in denial mode over sexual harassment at workplace

Corporate organisations are apprehensive about setting up committees against sexual harassment despite Suprem Court guidelines, claim Delhi Commission for Women (DCW) and civil rights groups.

Parminder Mandip Singh, member secretary DCW said sexual harassment at workplace has become rampant in the city.

“Maximum harassment cases are being reported from the corporate sector and 90 per cent of the cases are against the higher authorities of the organisation,” she said.

The concerned authorities deny having a sexual harassment committee in place, she said.
She also said that DCW has conducted some training for officers in their department for the purpose and the feedback has been good.

According to her, most victims complain that even if there is a committee, the members blame the women for provoking the accused.

“This attitude has to change. Organisations in the private sector need to practise zero tolerance towards harassment. We should also encourage schools to create awareness among children on the issue to have a safer environment,” she added.

The Supreme Court had passed the Vishaka guidelines against sexual harassment in the workplace to ensure its prevention.

However, the activists claim that majority of women are ignorant of the judgment in the Vishaka case.

Merely 23 per cent of women in Delhi are aware of these guidelines. PRIYA, a civil rights group, has made several efforts to convince corporate organisations in Delhi to form a sexual harassment committee.

“The response from organisations has not been positive. Most companies say that such cases do not occur there. But if you do not form a committee how will you know whether they happen or not? Existing committees have chairpersons who are extremely busy and never available for the hearings,” said Julie, member PRIYA.

She added, “The penalty given to the accused is termination which is not appropriate. Many companies fire the accused without even hearing him.”

Krishna Tirath, minister of Women and Child Development said she is aware of the fact that committees have not been put in place.

“We had presented the bill in Parliament in December 2010. It will hopefully be passed by next year. Once the Act comes into effect, it will be mandatory for organisations to abide by the rules,” she said.

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