That sexual harassment is a concern at workplaces is no secret, a new study conducted by the Indian National Bar Association (INBA) found that 37.8% of their participants reported having been sexually harassed at their workplace.
The study also found that almost 69% of the victims never complain or report sexual harassment citing a plethora of reasons ranging from fear of social stigma to a lack of confidence in the recourse system.
The survey had over 6,047 participants from Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore, Pune, Assam, Jalandar, Kolkata, Ahmedabad, Hyderabad, and Lucknow — 78% females and 22% males. It was found that no matter which industry people came from, most had experienced some sort of sexual harassment in their life.
The workplace was the most sexually aggressive place in their lives with 37.8% people saying that they were harassed there. Schools and colleges followed close with 22% respondents calling them as the next more common places of harassment.
Karuna Nundy, lawyer, who deals with anti-sexual harassment policies for companies, said, “Sexual harassment is an act of wielding power over another. In cases that I have seen, it is not necessarily because of attraction. It is mainly because they feel they have the power to act. Sometimes, it may have nothing at all to do with attraction; it could be jealousy, or even a way of undercutting a colleague’s success by humiliating her.”
A large proportion of the victims, 28.9%, said that they were sexually harassed by their immediate manager or a fellow colleague, or the senior leaders of the organisation (17.8%).
Three out of every four people who were harassed said they were subjected to inappropriate comments, touching and physical abuse.
Even though the problem seems to be widespread, not many actually complain. In approximately seven out of 10 cases, victims said they did not complain, as they fear retaliation and social stigma attached to cases of sexual harassment.
Zameer Nathani, chairman, media, INBA, said that almost half of the people they spoke to said that they did not believe that they would be protected by the law if they reported sexual harassment.
INBA’s report also stated that a majority of the people are unaware of the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace Act instituted in 2013 to ensure safe spaces for women in office.