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HindustanTimes Sun,26 Oct 2014

Sexual harassment at work still taboo in Delhi, says study

Soumya Pillai, Hindustan Times  New Delhi, July 22, 2014
First Published: 01:15 IST(22/7/2014) | Last Updated: 01:17 IST(22/7/2014)

Only one in every 100 women in the capital report cases of sexual harassment at workplaces, a research conducted by students of Jawaharal Nehru University (JNU) says.

Even though this shows that a majority of working women preferred to back out from complaining, the study also shows that only 20% of the city’s organisations have a structured internal committee to address such grievances.

The research was conducted by a group of students from JNU as a part of their gender sensitisation where they spoke to employers and victims to come to this conclusion. Over 150 small and medium scale organisations were sampled from across the capital and around 15 victims of sexual harassment were interviewed.

“We are living in a country where women are taught to stay silent and because of the lack of a support system from family and employers, many don’t report cases of sexual advances,” said Stuti Pathak, a member of the research project.

After the case of Tarun Tejpal - the then editor-in-chief of Tehelka magazine- where a female employee slapped a case of sexual assault against him, questions were raised on the glaring absence of women’s rights in offices across the nation. In 2013 with the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace Act, it was made mandatory that all organisations working with more than 10 employees are supposed to have an internal complaints committee which would look after such grievances.

But surprisingly many small organisations do not follow the guidelines stated under this act, said Pathak.

“My boss used to make sexual advances and touch me at every possible opportunity he got. Especially when I was alone, he would brush my arm or hold my waist. It was my first job and I was getting all the perks from him so I did not raise an alarm initially. Later it got worse and when I reported the case to my mother, she advised me to switch my job instead of letting anyone know,” said a 32-year old woman who was working with a publishing house.

“In a patriarchal society like ours it’s the organisation’s responsibility to deal with such instances more sensitively. It is mandatory that the ICC conducts enquiries in a confidential manner,” said Shruti Chaturvedi, human resource manager with Sambodhi Research. 


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