Position of Sexual Harassment Laws in India

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Sexual Harassment laws in India

Right to equality provides for indiscrimination on the basis of caste, gender, religion or place of birth. However, practical life differs a bit. The position of women in the society where it is economic, social or political has not been really encouraging compared to men. The situation worsens when there is not enough female representation in organisations. So today we take a look at Sexual Harassment Laws in India.


In loose terms, sexual harassment may be defined as unwanted direct or indirect sexual contact, remarks or conduct on part of the male colleagues against their women colleagues at any workplace. It includes many aspects whether it may be physical or mental.
One of the first legislative for the sexual harassment laws was introduced by Professor Mackinnon. This was followed by The International Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women [CEDAW] which has been ratified by India also. In India, sexual harassment was popularly defined by the Supreme Court in Vishaka vs State of Rajasthan.

Sexual Harassment Laws in India

Indian Penal Code– Before 2013, Sexual Harassment Laws in India at workspace was not a specific offence. Earlier Sexual Harassment Laws in India were dealt under section 354 of IPC, 1872.

Vishaka Guidelines – In the famous case of Vishaka vs State of Rajasthan, Supreme court gave few guidelines to protect the women in workplaces and also to provide redressal mechanism. These guidelines are generally called Vishaka guidelines. These guidelines mandated employers to enforce sexual harassment codes and redressal mechanism in the workplace. It became the duty of Employer to ensure healthy and homogeneous working conditions for women.

The Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace Act, 2013

the aim of the act is to protect the women against sexual harassment at workplace. The act also aims to faster and easier redressal mechanism.

These are following acts that constitute sexual harassment in the workplace-

  1. implied or explicit promise of preferential treatment in her employment: or
  2. implied or explicit threat of detrimental treatment in her employment; or
  3. implied or explicit threat about her present or future employment status: or (
  4. interference with her work or creating an intimidating or offensive or hostile work environment for her; or
  5. humiliating treatment likely to affect her health or safety.

This act also lays down some duties on the employer towards the protection of women against sexual harassment at workplace. These include a duty to-

  1. provide a safe environment for working
  2. spread awareness of work safety policies through workshops and training.
  3. set up a redressal mechanism.
  4. ensure the safety of complainant as well as witnesses and confidentiality of facts.


For any economy to prosper, for any society to develop we need every capable hand. Women account for almost 50% of our population and it is the responsibility of legislative, judiciary, employer and fellow employees to protect women and uplift the Sexual Harassment Laws India. Even in the presence of such strict laws more than 3.38 lacs sexual harassment crimes were reported. More than 2.28 lacs sexual harassment cases are pending in court and no. of cases which goes unreported are way more. So, the need of the hour is to make women and employers aware of their duties and responsibilities.

Written By Ankit Raturi, University School of Law and Legal Studies

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