A new provision has been added in the ‘Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013, which guarantees protection to women against sexual harassment at work place. Now according to the latest provision, the women who work under central government who have filed complaints of sexual harassment, can get paid leave of three months or 90 days during the inquiry period into their allegations. The leave will be in addition to those already given to central government employees.
“Leave up to a maximum of 90 days may be granted to an aggrieved female government servant during the pendency of inquiry…The leave so granted to the aggrieved woman under this rule shall not be debited against the leave account,” said an order issued by the Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT). With this, the rule will also be included in the Central Civil Services Rules, 1972, which govern central government employees.
The mandate has comes into the picture post few complaints of the accused or other people trying re-threaten or harass the women who have filed such complaints.
The law entails that any kind of sexual harassment, be it physical contact and advances, demand or request for sexual favours, sexual remarks, showing any pornography and any other unwelcome physical, verbal and non-verbal conduct of a sexual nature will be upheld. According to reports, implied or explicit promise of preferential or detrimental treatment in employment; implied or explicit threat about her present or future employment status; interference with her work, creating an intimidating, offensive or hostile work environment for her; and humiliating treatment likely to affect her health or safety – also will be counted as sexual harassment.
“It will come as a relief to the victims who undergo a lot of trauma while working in the office that too in the presence of the accused,” a senior DoPT official told PTI.
Out of curiosity of what other minds who work for sexual assaulted cases think in the matter, SheThePeople.TV exclusively had a chat with ElsaMarie DSilva, the Founder & Managing Director of Red Dot Foundation (Safecity) to give her opinion, and this is what she had to say:
“For a policy to be truly effective, it should provide a holistic supportive environment for the complainant. Whilst on the surface this leave policy may appear to be in favour of the woman complainant, I believe it could be limiting. For one, it could isolate the woman, escalate the feeling of being a victim and make her feel insecure by being away from work for 90 days. Secondly, it does not address the core problem of sexual harassment at the work place. In my opinion, I would prefer a fast track mechanism to complete the inquiry as soon as possible and ensure that everyone at the work place is well aware of the law and policies. There is no excuse for bullying and further creating a hostile work environment for a complainant.”
We couldn’t agree more! When the time has arrived to look for the core reason behind such allegations and how to bring justice to victims, the centre is focusing on putting those women behind closed doors. Not really the most effective method of dealing with the problem. ElsaMarie echoes similar thoughts:
“In my experience, most companies are yet to implement the POSH Act within their organisations and there is a superficial attempt to create awareness. If one has to sort out this issue and give it its serious due, then we need holistic policies that empower in the true sense,”
Yes, the law might provide relief from embarrassing situations , but it’s time to face the fact that it’s not embarrassing for those women to face the world, who were molested or sexually assaulted in the workplace-the criminals should be ashamed not the victims!
Feature Image Credit: udupitoday.com