As per the Vishaka Guidelines laid down by the Supreme Court of India, sexual harassment includes any unwelcome sexually determined behaviour (whether directly or by implication):
a) physical contact and advances;
b) a demand or request for sexual favours;
c) sexually coloured remarks;
d) showing pornography and
e) any other unwelcome physical, verbal or non-verbal conduct of sexual nature.
While we would like to believe that with the enforcement of the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013 since December 2013, the number of cases would have decreased, the statistics provided by the National Crime Records Bureau indicate the opposite.
- Cases of sexual harassment within office premises rose by more than 100 per cent between 2014 and 2015.
- There has been a 51 per cent rise in sexual harassment cases at other places related to work, from 469 in 2014 to 714 in 2015.
- There was a 35 per cent increase in sexual harassment complaints at the workplace, from 249 to 336 between 2013 and 2014.
- 38 per cent of women had faced sexual harassment at workplaces.
- 70 per cent working women do not report workplace sexual harassment in India
- 65.2 per cent women said their company did not follow the procedures laid under the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal Act, 2013)
- 46.7 per cent surveyors said the members of the Internal Committee were not aware of the sections and the legal provisions available under the act
- 66.7 participants said the internal complaint committee dealt fairly with their plants, 50 per cent victims left the place post the closure of the cases.
- According to an FICCI-EY survey, 36 per cent of Indian companies and 25 per cent among MNCs are not compliant with the Sexual Harassment Act, 2013.
We need to stop treating these statistics as mere numbers. A lot of men and women, find it hard to come out and report instances of sexual harassment because they are scared they will lose their jobs. These cases are on the rise, and it is time organisations took greater responsibility and enforced stricter rules and procedures in place to help protect their workforce.