HARASSMENT

Sexual harassment includes such unwelcome sexually determined behaviour (whether directly or by implication) as:

a) Physical contact and advances;

b) A demand or request for sexual favours;

c) Sexually coloured remarks;

d) Showing pornography;

e) Any other unwelcome physical, verbal or non-verbal conduct of sexual nature

Where any of these acts is committed in circumstances where-under the victim of such conduct has a reasonable apprehension that in relation to the victim’s employment or work whether she is drawing salary, or honorarium or voluntary, whether in government, public or private enterprise such conduct can be humiliating and may constitute a health and safety problem. It is discriminatory for instance when the woman has reasonable grounds to believe that her objection would disadvantage her in connection with her employment or work including recruiting or promotion or when it creates a hostile work environment. Adverse consequences might be visited if the victim does not consent to the conduct in question or raises any objection thereto.

All employers or persons in charge of work place whether in public or private sector should take appropriate steps to prevent sexual harassment. Without prejudice to the generality of this obligation they should take the following steps:

(a) Express prohibition of sexual harassment as defined above at the work place should be notified, published and circulated in appropriate ways.

(b) The Rules/Regulations of Government and Public Sector bodies relating to conduct and discipline should include rules/regulations prohibiting sexual harassment and provide for appropriate penalties in such rules against the offender.

(c) As regards private employers, steps should be taken to include the aforesaid prohibitions in the standing orders under the Industrial Employment (Standing Orders) Act, 1946.

(d) Appropriate work conditions should be provided in respect of work, leisure, health and hygiene to further ensure that there is no hostile environment towards women at work places and no employee woman should have reasonable grounds to believe that she is disadvantaged in connection with her employment.

Offences under the Indian Penal Code and relevant punishments

Section 354A

Sexual harassment is: unwelcome physical contact and advances, including unwanted and explicit sexual overtures, a demand or request for sexual favours, showing someone sexual images (pornography) without their consent, and making unwelcome sexual remarks.

Punishment: Up to three years in prison, and a fine.

Section 354B

Forcing a woman to undress.

Punishment: From three to seven years in prison, and a fine.

Section 354C

Watching or capturing images of a woman without her consent (voyeurism).

Punishment: First conviction – one to three years in prison and a fine. More than one conviction – three to seven years in prison and a fine.

Section 354D

Following a woman and contacting her or trying to contact her despite her saying she does not want contact. Monitoring a woman using the internet or any other form of electronic communication (stalking).

Punishment: First conviction – up to three years in prison and a fine. More than one conviction – up to five years in prison and a fine.

Section 509

Insulting the modesty of a woman by saying any word or sound or making any gesture which intrudes on her privacy.

Punishment: Up to three years in prison and a fine.

Offences under The Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act

5 Section 1

Sexual harassment of a child; showing any object/body part. Making a child exhibit her body or threatening to use a child to create sexual images (pornography).

Punishment: Up to three years in prison and a fine.                                   

The Sexual Harassment at The Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013:

Under the Act, sexual harassment includes:

a) Physical contact and advances (so, you can’t touch someone inappropriately and think I am innocent because, you know, I didn’t rape)

b) A demand or request for sexual favours

c) Making sexually coloured remarks (so, no sexist jokes or misogynist humour)

d) Showing pornography

e) Any other unwelcome physical, verbal or non-verbal conduct of sexual nature.

Under the Act, the below five also count as sexual harassment:

a) Implied or explicit promise of preferential treatment in her employment.

b) Implied or explicit threat of detrimental treatment in her employment

c) Implied or explicit threat about her present or future employment status

d) Interference with her work or creating an intimidating or offensive work environment for her (for eg., the St. Stephen’s College sexual harassment case)

e) Humiliating treatment likely to affect her health or safety.

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