Sexual Harassment of Women at Work Place
“Discrimination model ensures equal opportunity regardless of sex, race, national origin, religion, age and disability and applies particularly to work place. As such it would be sensitive to power dynamics that operate in obstructing equality of opportunity. The United Nations Human Development Report for the year 2000, expressly observes that human rights and human development “Share a common vision and a common purpose to secure freedom, well being and dignity of all people everywhere”. And it goes on to assert that the first and foremost freedom must be “freedom from discrimination” for without this the other freedoms essential to human development freedom from want, freedom to develop and realize one’s potential, freedom from fear of threats to personal safety, freedom from injustice and violations of the rule for law, freedom of thought and speech, freedom to secure decent work without exploitation will all remain elusive. Thus sexual harassment at workplace, which violates the equality rights and fundamental freedoms of women under the Constitution and Human Rights is a clear discrimination based on gender.
The existing cultural, social, economic and legal differences between men and women lead to male domination. It is the domination that is central to the commission of sexual harassment against women by men. Women sexuality in society is structured into an objectification of the male gaze rather than a consequence of natural or true form. Male domination places severe handicaps on women in understanding the ‘truth’ of their own lives and throws them to second class status. The above findings clearly refer the hypothesis that, “Discrimination against women violates the principles of equality of rights and respect for human dignity, which results in sexual harassment of women at work place” and it is proved.
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Non-Government Organisations are private, “voluntary” organisations which, by definition, purport to be independent of Governments. Composed of individual or associations of individuals, they have played and continue to play a considerable role in the field of human rights. It was essentially their action which resulted in the establishment, under the terms of the charter of the United Nations, of a specific human rights body. The Commission of Human Rights, and it is to their credit that the Universal Declaration of Human Rights originated with them. Acting as bodies for the promotion of human rights, they also contribute to their protection by identifying the violations of human rights, by notifying international bodies for the protection of human rights of such violations or by assistance, either materially or in the form of legal assistance to individuals who are victims of violation of human rights.
The eminent jurist justice V.R. Krishna Iyer, called for a radical, humanist and revolutionary movement for securing social, political and economic justice for Indian women. The slow actions of police and judiciary which have their own limitations, silent sufferings of some victim ladies instead of local protest, failure of prosecutions, at times leniency of judiciary and above all, the present judicial and law enforcing systems, act as a blessing for the criminals. Besides legal action, the developments of protective services are essential.
The voluntary organisations that are referred as the eyes and ears of the people providing essential community services in curbing sexual harassment at workplace. It is only due to the efforts of women’s groups and NCW, the Supreme Court has recognised the menace of sexual harassment at workplace and formulated a set of guidelines to prevent sexual harassment at workplace.
The above findings determine that the hypothesis, “Laws by themselves are important to a certain degree, social attitude and the environment are also important to prevent sexual harassment” and it is proved. The change in societal outlook for women can prevent the sexual harassment to a large extent. Women either themselves or with the support of voluntary organisations should exhibit their courage to take revolutionary steps against the existing evil at workplace. In this context, Violet Alva has observed that, “we need a revolution within us, for an evolution in society and unless that revolution comes about within, social legislation will not achieve the desired results”.
There are Voluntary Organisations like Women’s Organisations, NGO’s: there are statutory bodies like the National Commission for Women (NCW), National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), Law Commission etc., many social activists like Sheela Barse, Madhu Kishwar etc., who keep a constant watch over complaints of human rights violations against women. But incidents of sexual harassment and atrocities against women are still on the rise. Perhaps such remedial measures would not suffice.
In view of the above findings, the study forwards the following conclusions and suggestions for the consideration for prevention and redressal of sexual harassment of women at workplace. In India, women are entering the work force in unprecedented numbers in the recent time. In the light of this development, there is a pressing need for the rights of women to be respected, protected and fulfilled, particularly in the workplace. The “right to work” encompasses the right to work, free from sexual harassment.
Sexual harassment at work place is a multidimensional problem. The issue of sexual harassment at work place extends far beyond individual woman and her happiness to, work force productivity, economic development, social and family relations and much more. The problem needs the multidimensional solution too.
In spite of Supreme Court guidelines, voluntary organisations reports, statutory commission’s reports and commissions advice, the legislature has not done much to curb the sexual harassment at work place and to protect women against sexual harassment at workplace.”