Following the ever-increasing number of sexual harassment cases reported at workplace, Maharashtra Government has launched an online course for corporate firms, their employees and supervisors. This was done to deal with the complaints of sexual harassment at the workplace after a preliminary survey showed that awareness about Sexual Harassment at the Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition, and Redressal) Act, 2013, remains low.
According to a survey conducted by the Indian Bar Association in 2017, 70 percent of women agreed that they didn't report harassment by people superior in post to them because they were afraid of the repercussions.
Eight Hour Long Course Created by SAF
The course duration is of eight hours and is created by the SAF India Academy. This course includes animated videos, reading the material, exercises to interact for employees and monologues. The course not only explains Sexual Harassment at Workplace Act but also informs about different legal remedies that an employee can take to address the situation. In case women feel suppressed and do not feel like reporting the matter because of this, the course also explains certain precursors to sexual harassment, situation and gender bias that may encourage women to be suppressed in an office ecosystem and how an organization can ensure its employees feel safe at work.
The Maharashtra State Commission for Women launched the certification course on August 14 and so far 300 people have registered.
Strengthening Internal Committee In Office Is Necessary
India witnessed its #MeToo movement last year when several women came out to report about their harassment. However, not every woman can do that. Women working in firms have at many times, stayed silent over such matters because the accused turns out to be powerful and they fear loosing their job. While the Maharashtra State Commission for Women received 22 sexual harassment complaints by women in 2017-18, it received 17 complaints the following year. "But not every woman comes out to complain. This is a small fraction that approaches us. That is why strengthening internal committee in the office is necessary,” a member of the commission told The Indian Express.
70% Women Afraid To Report Sexual Harassment At Workplace
According to a survey conducted by the Indian Bar Association in 2017, 70 percent of women agreed that they didn't report harassment by people superior in the post to them because they were afraid of the repercussions. According to women commission chairperson Vijaya Rahatkar, a survey of members of the internal complaint committee of multiple organisations showed there was a need to train their members and also increase awareness about sexual harassment among employees.
While the Maharashtra State Commission for Women received 22 sexual harassment complaints by women in 2017-18, it received 17 complaints the following year.
“While we have been training government offices about this Act, it is difficult to reach out to the vast private sector. The online training course is aimed to cover them,” an official from the commission said.
It is mandatory for a company with more than 10 employees to have an internal complaint committee, according to The Prevention of Sexual Harassment at workplace (POSH) Act. However, many a time, these internal complaint committees too work as a puppet in the hands of powerful people. It turns out that the cases are not dealt with sincerity and so, the course might prove to be helpful in lessening the number of such incidents.
Picture Credit: Live Law