Ritu Sinha, 27, an HR executive, was glad that she was getting along with her mentor at work until last month when he made sexual advances.
At the office pantry, while talking to her, he touched her inappropriately. “When I confronted him, he said he didn’t intend to do it. As he is my senior, I didn’t want to complain as I fear it will jeopardise my prospects,” she said.
Odd and late working hours and field visits to meet clients are common situations where harassment is reported, said HR consultants. Unethical seniors are another problem.
“When women are required to stay back at work or when they are a minority, sometimes inappropriate behaviour is reported. Often, these are not full-blown cases of sexual harassment, but innuendos or touch that makes one uncomfortable,” said Rukmini Iyer, director of an HR consultancy firm.
Women across all professions encounter such problems. Rashmi Chaudhary (name changed), 32, a public relations professional, called off a deal with a client three years ago because of his inappropriate behaviour.
“Every time I went to his office, he would look at me inappropriately,” Chaudhary said. “I decided to end the deal, and fortunately, my seniors supported my decision.”
Last month, two Mumbai university professors were held for harassing three colleagues.
“Sexual harassment exists in all professions, even in educational institutions that are considered the role model for ethical behaviour,” said Anagha Sarpotdar, who is pursuing a PhD in sexual harassment at workplaces from Tata Institute of Social Sciences.