Sexual Harassment

Sexual Harassment

The Supreme Court Decision (Vishaka V/S State of Rajasthan, 1997) which recognizes harassment as a form of discrimination against women and violation of the constitutional right to equality was used to refer to sexual harassment.

Earlier, India had no legislation on sexual harassment. In 2013, Indian Government has enacted The Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013 (in force from December 09, 2013) which prohibits sexual harassment at the workplace. The Act specifies the types of actions that would fall within the ambit of sexual harassment with respect to women workers. Sexual harassment is defined as any one or more of the following unwelcome acts or behaviour (whether directly or by implication) namely: physical contact and advances; or a demand or request for sexual favors; or making sexually colored remarks; or showing pornography, or any other unwelcome physical, verbal or non-verbal conduct of sexual nature.

To address complaints relating to sexual harassment exclusively, the Act mandates all employers to create internal complaints committees. It also requires employers to include sexual harassment as a disciplinary violation in their internal policies, provide assistance to victims in reporting incidents of sexual harassment to the authorities, and also prepare and file annual reports prescribed therein. An employer who contravenes the provisions of this Act is punishable with a fine which may extend to 50,000 rupees.

Sexual harassment is also prohibited under section 354-A of the Penal Code. A person convicted of sexual harassment is punished with rigorous imprisonment for a term which may extend to three years or with fine or with both.

Source: § 2 & 26 of the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act 2013, § 354 (A) of the Penal Code