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A Study On Sexual Harassment Of Women At Workplace In India With Special Reference To Protection Of Women From Sexual Harassment Act

Sexual harassment is a major problem affecting all women in this world.It results in the violation of basic fundamental rights of women especially right to equality under Article 14 & 15 of the Indian Constitution and her right to life and to live with dignity under Article 21 of the Constitution.Sexual harassment means sex-based behaviour that is unwelcoming and offensive.

This consequently causes problems such as loss of job, dignity, social status and sometimes loss of life. The present study mainly focus on the POSH Act 2013 enacted has any impact in the country among the employees. The objectives of the research is to know the effectiveness of the steps taken by government, the effectiveness of POSH Act and to know about the action taken by companies on report of sexual harassment.

The origin of the term has been taken from the Bhanwari Devi case and In the case of Vishaka and Ors. v/s Union of India 1997 provided the basic definitions of sexual harassment at the workplace and provided guidelines in the judgment is also mentioned in the current study.

The data for the present study was collected from both primary and secondary sources analysis were done by using the empirical study research method and tool used are of chi-square and graphical representation.The results from this research indicates that in India sexual harassment is still prevalent in the workplace and recommends some of the preventive measures to minimize the incidence of sexual harassment at work place.

Sexual behaviour is the unwanted demonstrations or conduct specifically, actual contact and advances, an interest or solicitation for sexual favors, offering physically shaded comments, showing porn, some other unwanted physical, verbal or non-verbal lead of sexual nature.Before the presentation of the POSH Law, there was no legal cure that straightforwardly tended to work environment lewd behavior with the exception of the Indian Penal Code, 1860.

The main segments under the Indian Penal Code that could be utilized for inappropriate behavior are under:

  • Segment 354 (Outraging the humility of a women ) and
  • Segment 509 (Insulting the humility of a women).

According to Section 2(o) of the POSH Act, 'work environment' incorporates any spot visited by the representative emerging out of or over the span of business, including transportation gave by the business to the inspiration of driving to and from the work environment.

Sexual harassment at the workplace is widespread. Women all around the world have faced instances of sexual harassment, calling for a strong law to curb these acts. In India, the framework for the Sexual Harassment at Workplace law was laid down in the landmark judgement of the Supreme Court in Vishaka v. State of Rajasthan (1997).

In 1992, Bhanwari Devi, a Dalit woman who was a social worker employed with the Rural Development Programme of the Government of Rajasthan was gang raped. This highlighted the extents of sexual harassment incidents in Indias workplaces. It struck a chord with the nation and revealed the hazards working women face in the workplace. The Supreme Court framed guidelines and issued directions to the Union of India for a law to combat workplace sexual harassment.

The main intention of these guidelines was to provide a platform for redressal and grievance mechanisms against workplace sexual harassment. It was these guidelines that motivated the formation of the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013 (POSH). The Act is very important as it discusses the various instances of sexual harassment and how a woman can complain against this kind of behaviour.

International conventions to protect women against violence had been in place for a long while. The Vishaka Guidelines drew from them in the following ways:

  1. General Recommendation 19 to the Convention on Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW): India, which is involved with this show, has taken from it parts of equity of ladies in the work environment, orientation explicit savagery, and unwanted physically resolved conduct and embraced them into the POSH Act.
  2. Global Labor Convention on Discrimination (Employment and Occupation) Convention (No. C111): India confirmed this archive on 3 June, 1960. Through this Convention, India has a commitment to deny and forestall any orientation based separation in the work environment.

Impact of the POSH Law-The effect of the law is three-fold:

  1. Prevention of a hostile work environment
  2. Understanding Unwelcome behaviour
  3. Quid Pro Quo Harassment

The POSH (Prevention of Sexual Harassment) regulation appeared to keep women from falling into the clutches of sexual harrasment at their working environment and furthermore to guarantee appropriate redressal of their compliants. It assists with achieving a sexually unbiased workplace. This policy is relevant to every one of the individuals from the organization, for example, managers and including the people who are utilized on customary,on a day to day wage premise, and so on. The policy also stretches out even to the individuals who are not representatives of the organization like clients, guests, assistants, provisional laborers, suppliers etc.

As per the law in India, harassment violates the womens fundamental right of gender equality and life with dignity under article 14 and article 21 respectively. The provisions which are mentioned in IPC, provides protection against womens sexual harassments such as in IPC:

  • Section 294 deals with obscene acts and songs at public place.
  • Section 354 deals with assault or criminal force against women.
  • Section 376 deals with rape.
  • Section 510 deals with uttering words or making gestures which outrage a woman's modesty.

There is one more demonstration passed by a lawmaking body for safeguarding women specifically, Indecent Representation of Women Act (1997). This act has not been utilized in instances of inappropriate sexual harassment cases but rather there are certain provisions in this act which can be utilized in 2 ways: If an individual harasses another by showing books, photographs,painting, films,etc. containing obscene portrayal of women than he will be liable with minimum of 2yrs imprisonment.

Section 7 of this act punishes organizations of if there's indecent representation of women like showing pornography. The harassed women can also go to civil courts for tortuous activities like mental pain,physical harassment , loss of pay in employment of the victim etc..

There are many reasons for causes of sexual harassment but most vital one is the cultural and values system and therefore the relative power and status of the men and women in our society. One of the primary reason that harassment goes on is because on organisation so as to safeguard its image don't take into complaints and disciplinary procedures to deal with sexual harrasment.

As indicated by the review directed by Pink Ladder, a vocation upgrade environment for women experts found that 56% women believe sexual harassment at the workplace has increased over the years, and 53% women are subject to sexual comments, gestures, jokes at the workplace. In Australia under section 106 of the Sex Discrimination Act 1984 (Cth) employers may be vicariously liable if an employee commits sexual harassment, and the employer did not take all reasonable steps to stop the employee from doing these acts.


  • To know about the experience of people at workplace sexual harassment
  • To know about the preventive measures taken by companies
  • To know the main causes of sexual harassment in workplace
  • To know about the action taken by companies on report of sexual harassment
  • To know the effectiveness of POSH Act

Review Of Literature:

(J.A.Richmsn 1999) This study hypothesized that interpersonal workplace stressors involving sexual harassment and generalized workplace abuse are highly prevalent and significantly linked with mental health outcomes including symptomatic distress, the use and abuse of alcohol, and other drug use.Sexual harassment is recognized as the discrimination on the grounds of sex and, thus, are contrary to the principle of equal treatment between men and women.

The data show high rates of harassment and abuse. Among faculty, females were subjected to higher rates; among clerical and service workers, males were subjected to higher rates. Male and female clerical and service workers experienced higher levels of particularly severe mistreatment. Generalized abuse was more prevalent than harassment for all groups.

Both harassment and abuse were significantly linked to most mental health outcomes for men and women.Interpersonally abusive workplace dynamics constitute a significant public health problem that merits increased intervention and prevention strategies.(Schneider, K. T., Swan, S 1997) the article, based on the private-sector sample, was presented at the Ninth Annual Conference of the Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology, Nashville, Tennessee, April 1994. This research was supported in part by a Shannon Award from the National Institute of Mental Health.

We thank the sexual harassment research group at the University of Illinois for their ongoing intellectual stimulation and practical support, and we would particularly like to thank Charles Hulin and Fritz Drasgow for providing very helpful comments on a draft of this article.Sexual harassment is considered as a form of illegal discrimination as well as a type of psychological and sexual abuse.Fitzgerald, L. F. (1997) In this article, an empirical test of a recently proposed conceptual model is described. According to the model, organizational climate for sexual harassment and job gender context are critical antecedents of sexual harassment; harassment, in turn, influences work-related variables (e.g., job satisfaction); psychological states (e.g., anxiety and depression); and physical health.

Sexual harassment of women in organizational settings has recently become a topic of interest to researchers and the general public alike. (T.Bhattacharyya 2010) . Globally, sexual harassment is a burgeoning issue, which has been witnessed everywhere. Gripping the gravity of its significance, the present study sets forth to explore the reasons of sexual harassment in organizational settings.

Each organization and or each community has its own socio-cultural agenda whereby the terms and conditions show what are often considered as sexual harassment.Results:
From the extensive literature review, it is revealed that there are five dominant reasons for the widespread sexual harassment, namely inadequate governmental laws and organizational policies, perceptions and attitudes, male dominance, power differentials and organization structure and cultural influence.(Arvey, R. D 1995) Problems and issues associated with using survey methodologies to develop estimates of the prevalence of sexual harassment are summarized. Problems with respect to the definition of sexual harassment in survey research, response sets, the use of retrospective self-report measures, sample selection bias, validity and reliability, and generalizability are addressed.

Recommendations are offered in terms of conducting such survey research in future efforts to assess sexual harassment, as well as establishing relationships between reports of sexual harassment and other relevant variables.For instance, in Lebanon, any word or expression of a speech from an opposite sex that is aggressively said is not yet considered as sexual harassment.Cavanaugh, M. A. (1995) This study examined experiences of sexual harassment and assault among 1,037 female undergraduate and graduate students, with a particular focus on educational outcomes. Multivariate analyses of variance revealed significant negative effects of harassment and assault on perceptions of academic climate.

We also investigated the extent and effects of double victimization (i.e., experiences of both harassment and assault), as well as the relationships among sexual harassment types, incidence rates, and frequencies. Issues of sexual orientation and race/ethnicity are explored throughout the article, with membership in different groups affecting victimization incidence rates as well as harassment labeling.

(Hulin, C. L., Fitzgerald, L. F., & Drasgow, F. (1996) this chapter examines the hypothesis that an organization's climate for sexual harassment is a critical antecedent to sexually harassing behavior and may be a direct contributor to negative outcomes beyond the personal experiences of sexual harassment / describe scale development of the Organizational Tolerance for Sexual Harassment Inventory (OTSHI), which measures the extent to which respondents perceive that sexually harassing behavior will be associated with negative consequences in their organization Hostile Work Environment sexual harassment occurs when organizational members are faced with an intimidating, hostile, or offensive work environment because of their sex.(Gutek, B. A. , & Morasch, B. (1982) contend that sexual harassment is not a problem in one country.

It is a global issue. For instance, the European Commission found that 30 to 50 percent of female employees in European Union countries had experienced sexual harassment. Moreover, harassment cases are filed against employers in countries such as Japan, Australia, New Zealand, and Mexico”. In Egypt, 83 percent of Egyptian women and 98 percent of foreign women have been sexually harassed, but only 2 percent have reported it.(Thomas, 2013).

The emphasis of this research paper is to set up a preventive measure and fair procedure to develop a better and reliable organisational culture in educational institutions, free from issues of sexual harassment and exploitation. In doing so this paper will look at the recent developments in the arena of sexual harassment, the mandatory legal requirements for implementing policy that act as deterrent to and safeguard victim of sexual harassment at schools, colleges and universities.

The paper highlights the imperatives that are vital for rendering executable and implementable policies, procedures and remedies. (H.O.Agarwal 2008). The current research paper tries to highlight the causes that tend to spontaneous increase in sexual harassment cases from different time perspectives. There has been a steady increase in the rate of women employment in the organized sector in wide-ranging spheres and in many folds with the advent of rapid industrialization, modernization, economic development and globalization.

But it has led to many evil practices such as physical and mental harassment, gender discrimination and more specifically sexual harassment at work place.(S.C.Srivasrava 2004) Sexual harassment is superfluous annoyance of sexual requirements within the context of relationship of unequal power which includes physical contact, demand for sexual favours, showing coloured remarks and pornography even verbal and non verbal conduct of sexual nature.

The trigger to the development of the law on sexual harassment in India was in the case of Vishaka v. the State of Rajasthan. Sexual Harassment of Women At Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013 aims to provide protection against sexual harassment of women at workplace throughout India and to prevent and redress complaints of sexual harassment and for matters connected therewith.(G.S.Venumadhava, M.Tejashwini 2015).

In this paper, the origin of sexual harassment has been taken from the case of Bhanwari Devi together with some parts of the theVishaka judgment, which resulted in the enactment of THE SEXUAL HARASSMENT OF WOMEN AT WORKPLACE (PREVENTION, PROHIBITION, AND REDRESSAL) ACT, 2013. This paper discusses the reason behind sexual harassment of women, and the movement, which took the world by storm by this issue.

Finally, the current paper recommends that the need of this era is to look closely over this issue and provide for better preventive measures that could better access the situation.Sexual harassment is such a cruel offence that every women have experienced it at some point of instance ,may be either in office or on their way to work.(S. Ram 2003).

Sexual Harassment of Women explores the influence of sexual harassment in academia on the career advancement of women in the scientific, technical, and medical workforce. This report reviews the research on the extent to which women in the fields of science, engineering, and medicine are victimized by sexual harassment and examines the existing information on the extent to which sexual harassment in academia negatively impacts the recruitment, retention, and advancement of women pursuing scientific, engineering, technical, and medical careers. (S.G.Baugh 1997).

The present study on the Nature, Incidence, Extent and Impact of Sexual Harassment of Women at Work Place in the State of Maharashtra was undertaken in the backdrop of the increasing number of reports relating to the cases of sexual harassment of women in government and private offices and in other establishments and institutions. Fresh graduates from universities are the most vulnerable targets at the workplace. 'Fresh women graduates join different private sector companies as trainees.

These women become the easy targets of their immediate superiors who promise a salary hike or a permanent job.(L.I.Gerdes 1999). Sexual harassment in professional fields can hinder economic development globally. The epidemic of sexual harassment within the law profession has created a hidden barrier, predominantly for females.

This study seeks to examine the effect of Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition, and Redressal) Act 2013 (In.) (SHWWPPRA) among the legal professionals in India to determine whether sexual harassment affects the profession and whether sexual harassment is gender-biased. Empirical and descriptive research methods were adopted by administering questionnaires to three hundred and forty-seven (347) legal professionals.

(Susan Fineran, Rebecca M. Bolen (2016).The purpose of this study was to use a feminist theoretical framework to test competing models in respect of the direction of the relationships between dimensions of peer sexual harassment victimization and dimensions of depressive symptoms. There was weaker evidence of repeated experience of sexual harassment among boys. Depressive symptoms were stable over time in both genders. Sexual name-calling was the dimension that had the strongest associations to all dimensions of depressive symptoms irrespective of gender.

A recent survey has revealed that almost 17 percent of women workers in India face sexual harassment at their work place, with incidence rates being high in both organized and unorganized sectors (P.Chaudhuri 2008).Implementation of the Supreme Court guidelines on sexual harassment at the workplace - the Vishaka guidelines - remains limited. As this study conducted in several workplaces in West Bengal reveals, complaints committees have not been constituted in most organisations and many are yet to amend their service rules as directed by the guidelines.

Further, it says that 26% of women, belonging to the unorganized sector, are the sole breadwinners of their families and therefore economic vulnerability leads to 'fear of losing the job' (J.I.Kalyar 2015).The research study has clearly revealed that sexual harassment has been and is still a work place problem in retails in Vellore city. The failure of recognizing the sexual harassment is a human rights issue that must be addressed.

By addressing such issues within the organization would create equality and the workers may enjoy job satisfaction. Sexual harassment is one of the major social problems of all establishments in recent years. Sexual harassment is present in various forms such as physical, verbal, non verbal and visual sexual harassment. In a study conducted in Vellore 100 women workers of different retail sectors were studied in order to bring out the hidden difculties in being a working woman especially that of sexual harassment.

The research method followed here is empirical research. A total of 200 samples have been taken out of which is taken through convenient sampling. The sample frame taken by the researcher is through online survey link mode. The independent variable taken here gender, occupation and education qualification. The dependent variables are reasons for experience of work place sexual harassment, prevention taken by companies and action taken by government and companies.The statistical tool used by the researcher is graphical representation.



Legend: The figure 1 represents the opinions of sample population regarding do you think now a days women are experience sexual harassment in workplace.


Legend: The figure 2 represents the opinions of people and compared with the occupation regarding do you think now a days women are experience sexual harassment in workplace.


Legend: The figure 3 represents the opinions of sample of people regarding awareness program provided by the companies to prevent sexual harassment in workplace.


Legend: The figure 4 represents the opinions of sample with the comparison of gender on  people regarding awareness program provided by the companies to prevent sexual harassment in workplace.


Legend: The figure 5 represents the opinions of sample of people regarding the main cause for sexual harassment in workplace.