In today’s India, there has been an increase in introducing an institutional mechanism to deal with sexual harassment cases at work place as per Vishakha guidelines (1997) in the aftermath of various incidents of sexual harassment. Vishaka Guidelines were stipulated by the Supreme Court of India, in Vishaka and others vs. State of Rajasthan case in 1997, regarding sexual harassment at workplace. The court stated that these guidelines were to be implemented until legislation is passed to deal with the issue.
The guidelines suggest creation of a complaint mechanism for redressing complaints. The complaints committee should be headed by a woman and half of its members should be women. To prevent the possibility of any undue pressure or influence, the committee should involve a third party, either an NGO or anybody who is familiar with sexual harassment issues.
The University Grants Commission (UGC) has issued circulars since 1998, to all the universities, advising them to establish a permanent cell and a committee to develop guidelines to combat sexual harassment, violence against women and ragging at the universities and colleges. It has further advised the universities to be proactive by developing a favorable atmosphere on the campus, where the status of a woman is respected and they are treated with respect. In lieu with the above guidelines LBKMCH has constituted a Committee against Sexual Harassment in 2014 which will be for both employees and students of the Institute.
It shall be the duty of the employer or other responsible persons in work places or other institutions to prevent or deter the commission of acts of sexual harassment and to provide the procedures for the resolution, settlement or prosecution of acts, of sexual harassment by taking all steps required.
For this purpose, sexual harassment includes such unwelcome sexually determined behaviour (whether directly or by implication) as:
- Physical contact and advances.
- A demand or request for sexual favours.
- Sexually coloured remarks.
- Showing pornography.
- Any other unwelcome physical, verbal or non-verbal conduct of sexual nature.
It is discriminatory for instance when the woman has reasonable grounds to believe that her objection would disadvantage her in connection with her employment or work including recruiting or promotion or when it creates a hostile work environment. Adverse consequences might be visited if the victim does not consent to the conduct in question or raises any objection thereto.
The objectives of the Committee will be as follows:
- To prevent discrimination and sexual harassment against women, by promoting gender amity among students and employees
- To lay down procedures for the prohibition, resolution, settlement and prosecution of acts of discrimination and sexual harassment against women, by the students and the employees
- To deal with cases of discrimination and sexual harassment against women, in a time bound manner, aiming at ensuring support services to the victimized and termination of the harassment
- To recommend appropriate punitive action against the guilty party
Procedure for Approaching Committee
The Committee deals with issues relating to sexual harassment at the LBKMCH. It is applicable to all the students, staff and faculty. A complaint of discrimination or sexual harassment may be lodged by the victim or a third party. A written complaint may be addressed to the Convener of the Committee. If the complaint is made to the Director/ Chairman of the Institution or any of the Committee members, they may forward it to the Convener of the Committee against Sexual Harassment.
Here it should be noted that according to the Supreme Court guideline Sexual harassment can be defined as “unwelcome” sexually determined behaviour (whether directly or by implication) as:
- Physical contact and advances
- Demand or request for sexual favors
- Sexually colored remarks
- Showing pornography
- Other unwelcome physical, verbal or non-verbal conduct of a sexual nature (Vishaka judgment by Supreme Court)
- To recommend appropriate punitive action against the guilty
The following are also considered as sexual harassment and is covered by the committee:
- Unsavory remarks
- Jokes causing or likely to cause awkwardness or embarrassment
- Innuendos and taunts
- Gender based insults or sexist remarks
- Unwelcome sexual overtone in any manner such as over telephone (obnoxious telephone calls) and the like
- Touching or brushing against any part of the body and the like
- Displaying pornographic or other offensive or derogatory pictures, cartoons, pamphlets or sayings
- Forcible physical touch or
- Physical confinement against one’s will and any other act likely to violate one’s privacy
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