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HindustanTimes Sat,23 Aug 2014

Harassment at workplace: Women suffer in silence

Shaheen P Parshad and Rameshinder Singh Sandhu, Hindustan Times  Amritsar, November 25, 2013
First Published: 21:12 IST(25/11/2013) | Last Updated: 23:04 IST(25/11/2013)

The alleged sexual harassment of a woman colleague by Tehelka's editor has snowballed into a major controversy.

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The issue has exposed how women are subjected to harassment at the work place.

Sexual harassment has long-term debilitating effects on a person's sense of self and integrity. A majority of women chose to keep such incidents under wraps due to the fear of embarrassment.

A large number of women -- students, working professionals, security personnel and domestic helps -- in the city have suffered sexual harassment at some point or the other in their lives.

Recently, the principal-cum-director of a nursing college was charged with 'sexually harassing' girl students of the institution. Several cases of domestic helps being 'raped' and 'molested' have been registered in the city.

In 2009, a woman constable had charged a DSP of harassing her.

Surprisingly, the police authorities and district administration feigned ignorance about harassment at the workplace.

Worsening the matter, the district lacks a committee or a mechanism to deal with issues pertaining to such cases.

ADCP (crime) Harjit Singh Brar, said, "Instances of sexual harassment at workplaces are absolutely unheard of in Amritsar."

"In the last few years, the police have not received even a single complaint in this regard," he said.

Brar said as far as cases of crimes against women were concerned, they were making efforts to ensure that these were solved at the earliest, besides deploying more women cops.

The Vishakha Guidelines against sexual harassment at workplace (guidelines laid down by the Supreme Court) are unheard of in a majority of government offices and private establishments in the city.

In a majority of private establishments, men outnumber women staff, thereby putting them at a greater risk of harassment. However, these establishments claim to have their own mechanism of dealing with such issues.

Garima Chopra, human resource and training executive, Hotel Holiday Inn, said, "In backend offices, there is one woman in a staff comprising 20 men. On the other hand, senior posts have a higher concentration of women."

"We have pick-and-drop facility for women working in the evening shifts. A security guard accompanies them while commuting to and fro," Chopra said.

"Those found guilty of harassing women employees face termination of service," he added.

As far as schools are concerned, private schools have a higher concentration of women staff compared to men.

Dharamvir Singh, president, Sahodaya Schools Complex, Amritsar, and principal, Sri Guru Harkrishan Senior Secondary Public School, said, "As far as the male-female ratio in CBSE-affiliated schools is concerned, there are 95% women and only 5% men in these institutions."

"We follow CBSE's guidelines for promoting safe workplace environment and have taken steps such as circulating a confidential proforma among women staff to find out whether they are comfortable with the work culture or not," he added.

Meanwhile, Amritsar deputy commissioner Ravi Bhagat, said, "All possible measures are being taken to ensure that women in government offices are secure."

He, however, said there was no committee in the district to look into complaints of sexual harassment at the workplace.

"We will constitute a committee soon to ensure that all complaints of sexual harassment at workplace are taken up and resolved," said Bhagat.

What do you think are the reasons for increase in sexual harassment cases in your city? http://www.hindustantimes.com/Images/Popup/2013/11/Rajdavinder Kaur_compressed.jpg
 
"From the last few days, HT has been highlighting the issue of women safety. This has created awareness among people. The reason for rising sexual harassment cases is due to the decline in moral values among people. Rajdavinder Kaur (71), housewife   


 http://www.hindustantimes.com/Images/Popup/2013/11/Kiran Gill_compressed.jpg
"The rise in sexual harassment cases is due to the vulgarity portrayed in movies. This prompts youth to take to wrong activities. They follow what they see in movies. Kiran Gill, (28), housewife  
 


"Crimes against women do not end because we don't have stringent laws. They day strict laws are framed, things will drastically change. Shreejana Kadel Dasson (24), employee http://www.hindustantimes.com/Images/Popup/2013/11/S K Dasson_compressed.jpg


 

"If Dubai can have strict laws and severe punishment for crimes, why can't India? Women have been facing harassment for ages. Due to the http://www.hindustantimes.com/Images/Popup/2013/11/Megha_compressed.jpgabsence of laws and strict punishment, sexual harassment cases are on the rise. Megha Mallan (27), soft skills trainer   
 

 

"It pinches me when I see a woman being molested in a public place and people acting as mute spectators. People need to change their mindset. Such ihttp://www.hindustantimes.com/Images/Popup/2013/11/Gurmit Kaur_compressed.jpgncidents reflect our society. We need to inculcate moral values. This will help being a change.
Gurmit Kaur (64), retired professor   

 

"Our education system is bookish. People should inculcate moral values. This lays the foundation of a strong society. This will stop the youth from harassihttp://www.hindustantimes.com/Images/Popup/2013/11/gandhi_compressed.jpgng women. Sonu Gandhi (42) fashion designer  

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