The cost of sexual harassment is immense to the victim and is an irreparable loss to the physical and mental wellbeing. Whenever any law is drafted, it is always in its infancy, and prone to many flaws and loopholes. Individuals suffering from sexual harassment had to endure psychological suffering including humiliation, reduced motivation, loss of selfesteem, and loss of trust. Finally, the outcomes can be demotivation, poor performance, loss of career opportunities and consequently loss of job itself. The employers too have to suffer loss due to sexual harassment.
The company image gets hampered as a consequence no applicants will be willing to fill vacancies at workplace where they fear sexual harassment. The long term rehabilitation costs for the reintegration of the harassed employee needs to be borne by the company. It further disturbs the company reputation thereby it inadvertently reflects in the profits of the company. The company also has to bear legal and criminal justice expenses. The effect of sexual harassment socially hinder women to access to high-status and well-paid jobs which are traditionally male-dominated and also creates unsafe living and working environment condoning violence which further affects productivity and development for the nation as a whole.
The Ministry recognizes that incidence of crime against women cannot be controlled unless mindsets of people, in general, are made to change. The Government including NCW regularly conducts awareness creation among men and women in the society through workshops, seminars, street plays, Nariki Chaupals, Beti Janmotshav at the district level. In collaboration with the Ministry of Panchayati Raj, Special (Mahila) Gram Sabhas have also been conducted.
Sexual harassment undermines women’s professional and educational attainment and mental and physical health. Negative outcomes are evident across lines of industry sector, occupation, race, ethnicity, and social class, and even when women do not label their experiences as “sexual harassment.”When women experience sexual harassment in the workplace, the professional outcomes include declines in job satisfaction, withdrawal from their organization (i.e., distancing themselves from the work either physically or mentally without actually quitting, having thoughts or intentions of leaving their job, and actually leaving their job), declines in organizational commitment (i.e., feeling disillusioned or angry with the organization), increases in job stress, and declines in productivity or performance.
Gender harassment has adverse effects. Gender harassment that is severe or occurs frequently over a period of time can result in the same level of negative professional and psychological outcomes as isolated instances of sexual coercion. Gender harassment, often considered a “lesser,” more inconsequential form of sexual harassment, cannot be dismissed when present in an organization.
The greater the frequency, intensity, and duration of sexually harassing behaviors, the more women report symptoms of depression, stress, and anxiety, and generally negative effects on psychological well-being.
The more women are sexually harassed in an environment, the more they think about leaving their job, and end up leaving as a result of the sexual harassment. The more power a perpetrator has over the target, the greater the impacts and negative consequences experienced by the target. For women of color, preliminary research shows that when the sexual harassment occurs simultaneously with other types of harassment (i.e., racial harassment), the experiences can have more severe consequences for them. Sexual harassment has adverse effects that affect not only the targets of harassment but also bystanders, co-workers, workgroups, and entire organizations. Women cope with sexual harassment in a variety of ways, most often by ignoring or appeasing the harasser and seeking social support. The least common response for women is to formally report the sexually harassing experience.
For many, this is due to an accurate perception that they may experience retaliation or other negative outcomes associated with their personal and professional lives. Four aspects of the science, engineering, and medicine academic workplace tend to silence targets as well as limit career opportunities for both targets and bystanders: The dependence on advisors and mentors for career advancement. The system of meritocracy that does not account for the declines in productivity and morale as a result of sexual harassment. The “macho” culture in some fields. The informal communication network, in which rumours and accusations are spread within and across specialized programs and fields.
The cumulative effect of sexual harassment is significant damage to research integrity and a costly loss of talent in academic science, engineering, and medicine. Women faculty in science, engineering, and medicine who experience sexual harassment report three common professional outcomes which are stepping down from leadership opportunities to avoid the perpetrator, leaving their institution and leaving their field altogether. The situation created by incidents in sexual harassment in workplace not only force females to sacrifice their career aspirations but be a victim in the eyes of the society as well.
The major recommendations on Implementation of Sexual Harassment at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013 are as below:
- In all offices, organizations both in public and private sector as well as in all the educational institutions the appointment of Internal Complaints Committee/ Local Complaints Committee must be made mandatory and it should be formed immediately without any delay or default.
- Organizations should depict on boards, the gist of the Act, its implications and the penalty clauses for non–implementation of the Act.
- Legal awareness programmes should be arranged and organized by each department under government and private sectors which will familiar the women employees about their rights and privileges.
- Display the list of members of the Internal Complaints Committee/ Local Complaints Committee with their occupation, position and address in the organization on all notice boards.
- If any Internal Complaints Committee/ Local Complaints Committee is appointed without a woman member from an NGO to conduct inquiry, the enquiry report must not be accepted and penalty must be imposed on Appointing Authority for not constituting the Committee as per provisions of the Act.
- Complaint boxes be made available in all organizations.
- Awareness be generated that the victim can also file a criminal complaint with the police simultaneously in addition to making a complaint in the organization.
- Sexual harassment of women at workplace should be made a cognizable offence.
- FIRs should be registered by the police within 24 hours in case of complaints having criminal angle.
- A time-line should be fixed for officials to complete the inquiry.
- Complaints relating to sexual harassment provisions should be made to be dealt by fast track courts only
- A provision should be made for budgetary support to all Local Complaints Committees.
- Basic training should be provided about provisions of law for all the Internal Complaints Committee/Local Complaints Committee members.
- Men should be sensitized about gender equality and rights of women.
- SHE BOX Portal should be extended to all States.
Implications of the Study
The International Human Rights Commission, The International Labour Organisation, United Nations etc. has taken ample initiative to redress and bridge the gap of gender based discrimination yet it is prevalent in India.
Sheryl Kara Sandberg, the COO of Facebook and founder of Leanin.org said “Progress isn’t just slow—it’s stalled”. The first step to closing gender gap is ensuring that hiring and promotions are fair from the start. The fair recruitment and section procedure and unbiased promotional policy is warranted with immediate effect to resolve the issue from turning into a boisterous daily crime in every workplace.
Though implementation of The Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013 is an important step in addressing gender-based discrimination, violence and crime against women in India, even if some legislative gaps remains as it protects only women from sexual harassment at workplace and excludes man and transgender from sexual harassment.