In 1997 in Vishaka Vs. State of Rajasthan and others, for the first-time sexual harassment had been explicitly- legally defined as an unwelcome sexual gesture or behaviour whether directly or indirectly as
1. Sexually coloured remarks
2. Physical contact and advances
3. Showing pornography
4. A demand or request for sexual favours
5. Any other unwelcome physical, verbal/non-verbal conduct being sexual in nature.
Sexual assault was first established as a distinct criminal behaviour in this historic lawsuit. The unwelcomeness of the behaviour is a key element in sexual harassment. As a result, the effect of certain conduct on the recipient becomes more important than the perpetrator's purpose, which must be weighed.
In any kind of organisation, whether government, private, or public, such behaviour instils anxiety in the minds of workers that if they do not complete the job assigned to them, they will become victims of sexual assault, and thereby induces fear in their minds. On the other hand, the employer could threaten the employee with a move, promotion, or other benefit. In the business world, it has been observed that employers would ask for a favour in exchange for a position, a relocation, or a bonus, or even to raise their pay. Much of this amounts to sexual harassment when it is done against the person's wishes, and the workers who use the aforementioned services adhere to the employer's terms.
In other words, it is unfair where a woman has fair reasons to assume that her objection will harm her job or jobs, like hiring or advancement, or where it establishes a hostile work atmosphere. If the survivor refuses to agree to the actions in question or expresses any objections to it, negative penalties will be imposed.
Remedies Available to Victim
In India there is no specific law relating to Sexual Harassment at workplace but there are certain sections in the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and Constitution and certain other laws and Acts that protect the women’s from sexual harassment at workplace and they are as follows:
Section 354, IPC deals with assault or criminal force to a woman with the intent to outrage her modesty and lays down that:
Whoever assaults or uses criminal force to any woman, intending to outrage or knowing it to be likely that he will thereby outrage her modesty, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to two years, or with fine or both.
In cases where the accused sexually harasses or insults the modesty of a woman by way of either- obscene acts or songs or- by means of words, gesture, or acts intended to insult the modesty of a woman, he shall be punished under Sections.294 and 509 respectively.
Under Sec.294 the obscene act or song must cause annoyance. Though annoyance is an important ingredient of this offence, it being associated with the mental condition, has often to be inferred from proved facts. However, another important ingredient of this offence is that the obscene acts or songs must be committed or sung in or near any public place.
Section 509, IPC deals with word, gesture or act intended to insult the modesty of a woman and lays down that: Whoever intending to insult the modesty of any woman utters any word, makes any sound or gesture, or exhibits any object intending that such word or sound shall be heard, or that such gesture or object shall be seen by such woman, or intrudes upon the privacy of such woman, shall be punished with simple imprisonment for a term which may extend to one year, or with fine, or both. (Cognizable and bailable offences).
Civil suit can be filed for damages under tort laws. That is, the basis for filing the case would be mental anguish, physical harassment, loss of income and employment caused by the sexual harassment.
Under the Indecent Representation of Women (Prohibition) Act (1987) if an individual harasses another with books, photographs, paintings, films, pamphlets, packages, etc. containing "indecent representation of women"; they are liable for a minimum sentence of 2 years.
Section 7 (Offenses by Companies) holds companies where there has been "indecent representation of women" (such as the display of pornography) on the premises guilty of offenses under this act, with a minimum sentence of 2 years.
Keywords: Posh Consultant, Sexual Harassment at Work place, Posh Lawyer
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