Female staff of corporates to be sensitised to sexual harassment laws

Female staff of corporates to be sensitised to sexual harassment laws

Seven firms evince interest in women's helpline initiative

Female staff of corporates to be sensitised to sexual harassment laws

Starting from September, Vanitha Sahayavani (VSV), the women’s helpline and counselling centre, will be conducting workshops and awareness programmes in corporate companies for the benefit of their large women workforce.

The centre, which works out of the office of the Commissioner of Police on Infantry Road, is run by the Bengaluru City Police and NGO Parihar and it receives hundreds of calls everyday on their helpline 1091.

“We handle many cases of abuse against working women daily. We felt that it was necessary to give women information about the legal aspect and also train them to face adverse situations,” said Rani Shetty who is in-charge of the centre.

She gave an example of a case in which VSV had intervened. A woman was being sexually harassed in the office by her boss. When she stood up against him, she was humiliated and threatened that unless she handed in her resignation letter, she would not be allowed to leave the office premises. The quick-thinking woman went to the restroom and called up the helpline.

“Immediately, we sent our unit along with women police officers. She was rescued and the boss was taken to the police station.” Shetty said. Besides female employees, VSV encourages their male colleagues, employers, staff and even their cab drivers to attend the workshop for sensitisation.

Existing laws to protect women from sexual harassment at work, at home and in public will be discussed. The workshops will cover topics such as rape, stalking, eve-teasing, cyber crimes and legal consequences of live-in relationships. VSV is also tying up with self-defence trainers to give basic training for women to be able to protect themselves.

Two-day event

Seven companies with about 1,000 employees each have shown interest in the initiative. Companies can choose the duration of the sessions based on their convenience from one-hour sessions to two-day comprehensive programmes with group activities and practical training.

Surabhi Anantha, a corporate employee said though she has been working for a while now, she does not know the rules to protect women from sexual harassment at the workplace. “I have heard about a helpline but I don’t know the number. We have not had such workshops in my company while I have been here so such an initiative would really be welcome.”

Though VSV has held such workshops before, now they will be conducted on a larger scale. “Women have the right to a safe environment at work and it is the duty of the employer to ensure this.” Shetty added. Workshops will also be conducted in colleges with topics relevant to students being discussed.

For queries, contact the centre at 080-22202570 or mail pariharfcc.vsv@gmail.com.

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