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Sexual harassment at workplace

According to the Protection of Human Right Act, 1993 "human rights" means the rights relating to life, liberty, equality and dignity of the individual guaranteed by the Constitution or embodied in the International Covenants and enforceable by courts in India . It is necessary and expedient for employers in work places as well as other responsible persons or institutions to observe certain guidelines to ensure the prevention of sexual harassment of women as to live with dignity is a human right guaranteed by our constitution.

It has been laid down by the Supreme Court that it is the duty of the employer or other responsible persons in work places or other institutions to prevent or deter the Commission of acts of sexual harassment and to provide the procedure for the resolution, settlement or prosecution of acts of sexual harassment by taking all steps required.

Women who either draw a regular salary, receive an honorarium, or work in a voluntary capacity - in the government; private sector or unorganized sector comes under the purview of these guidelines.

What amounts to sexual harassment?

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

  • physical contact and advances
  • a demand or request for sexual favors
  • sexually colored remarks
  • showing pornography
  • 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 amounts to sexual harassment.

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.

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