How to Report Sexual Harassment at Workplace?

How to Report Sexual Harassment at Workplace?

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In today’s era, women are getting employment in every feasible field of work. They become independent and self-sufficient but still, 54 % of women reported sexual harassment at the workplace.[1] Most working women encounter sexual harassment in one path or another. They face vulgar comments, physical and mental assault etc. Harassment gives indecent treatment to women employees by infringing all the rules of humility. 

What are the sexual harassments that women face at the workplace? 

The sexual harassments that women face at the workplace are stated below:

Unwanted comments on dressing;

Unwanted physical touch;

Proposal for sexual favours;

Making sexually coloured statements;

Showing pornography;

Vulgar comments; and so on.

How to Report Sexual Harassment at Workplace?

Sexual harassment at the workplace is illegal and prohibited under the law. Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013, The Indian Penal Code, 1860 and Industrial Employment (Standing Orders) Act, 1946 deals with Sexual harassment at the workplace. Anyone female employee can report sexual harassment at her workplace by some simple procedure. The procedures are stated below:

Complaint to National Commission for Women: A woman can file an online complaint on the website of the National Commission for Women. 

Complaint to a Police Station: Any victim women can file a complaint in the nearest police station under Section 154 of the Code of Criminal Procedure. The victim should check the content of the complaint as cited by the police, to make clear that there are no differences in the complaint and the complaint will be reported as a zero FIR.  The victim should look out for the rapid response desk for women that will have a lady police officer. In case no female officer is attending the police station then the victim can approach a female constable.

Complaint to Internal Complaint Committee: A victim can report the incident of sexual harassment in the Internal Complaint Committee of the organization. A written complaint can be made to the Internal Complaint Committee of the organization. The complaint should be made by the victim within three months from the date the incident has happened. These three months can be expanded by another three months if adequate grounds are present. The identity of the complainer can be kept anonymous. The victim should have some valid documents that can confirm the allegation of sexual harassment against a person. Documents like text messages, emails etc. Once the complaint is accepted by the Internal Complaint Committee, the accused will be made conscious of the allegations made against him. 

The complainant will be allowed to ask for conciliation proceedings, by communicating the accused in the existence of the members of the Committee. The Internal Complaint Committee will report the purpose of the conciliation and give documents of the settlement to the aggrieved employee and the accused. 

If the accused employee does not accept the norms of the conciliation settlement, the aggrieved employee will still have a choice to approach the Internal Complaint Committee for proper enquiry of the event. During the procedure of the Internal Complaint Committee, the complainant may be shifted to another team or assigned work from home. Leave of reasonable duration may be permitted if compelled. The complainant and the accused person will be reported for inquiry within ten days of the culmination of the inquiry. 

The accused is subject to rigorous disciplinary action encompassing transfers, compensations, withholding of promotions, moratorium from employment, or complete dismissal.[2]

Complaint to SHe-Box: A victim can file a complaint on the online portal formulated by the Ministry of Women and Child Development in 2013 known as She-Box. The complaint can be made on the official website and one can check the update on the complaint status on the website. Once the SHe-Box collects the complaint of the accused, it would promptly forward the complaint to the ICC of the particular organization or department. 

Conclusion:-

Sexual harassment at the workplace does not only affect mental or physical damage to the person but also seriously curtails opportunities at work by creating a partial work environment. It is a serious offence still 70% of women in India did not report sexual harassment at the workplace[3] due to further mental harassment, embarrassment and fear of losing their job. The woman should understand that reporting sexual harassment would not tarnish her image among other employees.

By Shreeparna Goswami

3rd year of Shyambazar Law College.


[1] 54 Percent of Women Report Workplace Harassment. How Is Your Company Responding? | Inc.com, https://www.inc.com/magazine/201804/minda-zetlin/sexual-harassment-workplace-policy-metoo.html.

[2] How to report instances of sexual harassment at workplace – Notary Services in Kolkata || Affidavit || Attestation ||, https://www.lawhousekolkata.com/2019/02/18/how-to-report-instances-of-sexual-harassment-at-workplace/.

[3] 70% working women do not report workplace sexual harassment in India, https://www.business-standard.com/article/current-affairs/70-working-women-do-not-report-workplace-sexual-harassment-in-india-117030400227_1.html.

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