Recognizing Sexual Harassment
Sexual harassment of women is a violation of the fundamental rights of a woman to work to equality under article 14 and 15 in a safe environment. Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013 guidelines define sexual harassment as:
- Physical contact and advances
- Demand or request for sexual favours
- Making sexually coloured remarks
- Display of pornography
- Any other unwelcome physical, verbal or non-verbal conduct of a sexual nature
Therefore, sexual harassment includes any attempt to intimidate/influence by linking professional advancement with sexual favors, or creating a hostile work environment through sexually coloured conversations, letters, telephone calls and text messages, or making demeaning comments about women’s role in society. In short, all kinds of offensive, hostile, intimidating, humiliating and exploitative language, gestures and conduct are the sexual harassment.
Often such behaviour goes unpunished mostly because of hesitation on the part of women to report such behaviour out of a sense of shame or fear or both. It is important for women to protest against any behaviour that they feel is unwanted and unacceptable. The Internal complaints committee at IIT Roorkee has been set up with the aim of providing women a platform to complain about any unwelcome behaviour.
Abuse of Position of Power
Power of position may be abused by perpetrators of sexual harassment through implied or explicit promise of preferential treatment; implied or explicit threat of detrimental treatment; creating an offensive work environment; All these are criminal offenses. Apart from the grave criminal offense of Rape, following acts are also punishable under law: Voyeurism: Watching or capturing an image of a woman engaged in a private act.
Stalking: Following a woman, contacting (or attempting to contact) a woman despite a clear indication of disinterest by the woman; monitoring the use of the internet by a woman. Therefore, any of these acts may lead to academic termination or suspension from service.
Pervasive Myths about Acts of Sexual Harassment and Violence
Certain dresses provoke sexual harassment and violence, i.e. provocatively dressed women ask to be sexually harassed and have no right to complain; or decently dressed women are not sexually harassed. Any act that happens with a woman at a place where she has gone willingly must be consensual. Women who object to sexual harassment are over-reacting. Any act under the influence of alcohol or drugs does not amount to sexual harassment or violence. It is sexual harassment only if it is committed by stranger(s). If the act is not reported immediately, then it did not happen or was consensual.
If you are being Harassed, what to do and not to do:
- Do not feel ashamed and embarrassed. Firmly tell the harasser that you find his behavior inappropriate/offensive.
- Do not blame yourself. Come forward and complain.
- Do not ignore the harassment in the hope that it will stop on its own.
- Talk to somebody you trust about the harassment and take his/her advice of lodging a complaint.
- Keep a record of all incidents of sexual harassment with dates, times, places, names of harasser(s) and witnesses of the incidents related to the harassment.
- If after warning the abuser does not stop harassing, the victim can lodge a complaint through e-mail or by telephone call to any members of ICC. The identity of complainant will be kept confidential.
- Only victim or her heir can file complaint. All woman employees (faculty and staff including contractual, casual and temporary), female students, and other women residing in IIT Roorkee Campus or visiting the Campus can approach ICC.
As mandated by The Government of India, Ministry of Law and Justice, “The Sexual harassment of women at work place (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act 2013, published in “Gazette of India” Extraordinary Part II, Section I, No. 18, New Delhi dated 23 April 2013, IIT Roorkee has constituted an “INTERNAL COMPLAINTS COMMITTEE” which can be approached for filling complaints. Please also refer to the notification of Ministry of Women and Child Development published in “The Gazette of India” Extraordinary Part II, Section 3, Subsection ii, No. 2733, New Delhi, dated 09 December 2013. The constitution of ‘The Internal Complaints Committee’ is available on the Institute website (Click Here) (Click Here) The Chairperson of the committee is designated as “Presiding Officer”. Call/email/meet/file a paper complaint to the Presiding Officer, The Internal Complaints Committee. The Current Presiding Officer is Prof. (Mrs.) Mala Nath, Professor, Department of Chemistry Room No. A-212, First Floor ‘A’ block of Chemistry DepartmentPhone: 01332-285797 (O); 9897135529; E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Emergency contact: Security (SIS) control room: +91-1332-284595.
What action can be taken against the offender ?
After it has been proven that the offender has indulged in sexual harassment in the work place, an appropriate punitive action would be taken against him irrespective of his status in the Institute (staff, faculty, and student). Where such conduct amounts to a specific offence under the Indian Penal Code or under any other law, a complaint will be made to the appropriate action in accordance with the law can be taken. Initially the compliant will be directed to Internal Complaint Committee (ICC) for its recommendation to the Director, who will direct the recommendations to the Dean of Student Welfare for students, Dy. Director for non-teaching staffs and to Board of Governors (BOG) for Class A officers/faculty members for necessary action.