There are strong chances that if you are working, you will be bullied at some point of time of your career at your workplace. It is not necessary that one can be harassed sexually or physically, mental harassment is also increasing at a larger pace especially in India. The major problem is that unless you are at a receiving end, you are not sure of what to really do about it. However, cases of sexual harassment at workplace continue to rise.
The data released by the Indian government on Friday stated that around 536 cases of sexual harassment of women at workplace were reported in 2014. Out of the total number, 57 cases were reported in office premises and 469 were filed at other places related to work, Minister for Women and Child Development Maneka Gandhi said.
Gandhi said that the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013 directs responsibility on the suitable government to check its execution and maintain data on the number of cases filed and disposed of and there was no centralized mechanism to collect such data.
This is for the first time that the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) collected the data this year under insult to modesty of women (Section 509 of IPC) at office premises and other places related to work, she said.
She also mentioned about the increased number of sexual offences against children in the country. The number of children rape cases below 18 years had jumped from 8,541 in 2012 to 12,363 in 2013 and 13,766 in 2014.
Well, it is important to understand that any type of harassment at workplace is illegal. Here are some points that will help you deal with the situation and come out of it patiently and in an appropriate way. Read on…
As soon as an employee experiences the first sign of sexual harassment, their first reaction is usually to quit the job as they are too embarrassed or scared to get back to the same place. Well, it is totally understandable but what needs to be focused is that if you quit, you are also giving up on your sexual harassment claims. You need to first report the harassment under the sexual harassment policy of the company and give your organization an opportunity to fix the situation and take an action against the wrongdoer.
Look for the right platform
You might not always be aware of the correct person to approach to report the matter. Look for the policy agreement of the company or the company handbook. Report it to the person designated by your employer and share your experience and wait for them to act against it.
Put it in writing
Always remember to keep all such complaints in writing. Never expect a favorable action on the basis of a verbal communication. They often go waste. Even if the policy of your company asks you to call or meet someone, keep it official on an e-mail. Detail out every sexual comment, sexual advance, and glimpse of pornography, inappropriate jokes or emails, anything that you have experienced or witnessed where women were treated differently than men or vice versa and title the mail ‘Formal Complaint of Sexual Harassment’.
It may not be necessarily ‘sexual’ always
There are many who believe that sexual harassment is only related to unwanted sexual offers, groping or sexual remarks. But this is not true. That is only one kind of sexual harassment. At large, if you are being harassed because of your gender, that is sexual harassment too. If you are assigned to less favourable shifts, given tedious projects, placed in less profitable territories, or simply being demeaned only because you are male or a female that needs to be reported too. While many tag this as ‘gender-based harassment’, this is also reported in the sexual harassment policy of a company.
Do not wait for the second time
Many of us actually do not report the matter when the first such incident takes place. This gives the harasser another opportunity to misbehave with you and in an uglier way. Never wait for another chance or another incident and report the matter in the first such move itself.
It is the responsibility of the employer to create a safe workplace. If your employer has not fired the harasser and you are retaliated and against or continued to be harassed, continue reporting. If your employer takes the matter easy and is not willing to take an action, go ahead and file a legal complaint against both the harasser and the company.
Do not be the victim
Sexual harassment practically is more about power than just involving sexual demands and the harasser who easily get away from it usually get casual about this behavior and do it more often. This means you are not suffering alone and probably not the first victim. So, do not be just another victim and forget about it. It will not only demoralize you as a person but also give the harasser more confidence to do such things in future.
In the end, always remember that you might be working for a company but you are working for yourself. And you do not have to compromise anything for it. If you feel you are being harassed at workplace or you are a part of a hostile working environment, understand your rights and responsibilities and report the matter on the immediate basis!