Monday, September 23, 2013

Summary of the Study Report

Introduction to the report 
A survey had been conducted by Mahila Jagaran Kendra in 50 institutions of Patna covering government, private, unorganized and development sectors. The head of the institution, male and female both were covered in the survey. In India, the Vishakha Guidelines, Justice Verma Committee Report and the sexual harassment of women at workplace (prevention, prohibition and redressal) Act, 2013 are some of the legislations to prevent and address the issues of sexual harassment.    
Since the economic liberalization in 1990s, more and more women have joined the workforce.  They have been working in the agriculture, factories, construction work and various government sectors & private sectors and thereby contributing to the economic growth and development.  Nonetheless, it is clear from various national and international reports that women are suffering from sexual harassment at the workplace.
Executive Summary
The women are victim of different kind of violence: abuses and harassment, beating, lewd remarks, stalking, staring, etc in the homes and outside. Despite their contribution to family development, child bearing, social development and overall economy, they are not recognized as equal partner of men and suffer at the hands of male counterparts at workplaces.
Every minute they bear objectionable remarks, unwanted physical touch during performing their duties, on way to home and office, market places etc. Sexual harassment badly affects them psychologically, physically, morally and stigmatizes them in the society. Family and society blame them for the wrong which they haven’t done. They are unable to perform their duties and responsibilities at the workplace. Thus, the family, other women working in the organization, the organizations itself and society become victim but they rather ignore it. If the cases of sexual harassment come to light the victim is either looked down upon by the society, employers and even family members and even tonted for provoking the harasser.
The study suggests that 60 % of the working women face sexual harassment in various forms. This percentage suggests that sexual harassment is very common in workplace. The laws for prevention of crime against women are not being implemented properly neither by the Bihar government nor by the Central government. Whatever, the steps have been taken by the Bihar government (by forming the state level sexual harassment complaint committee and district level local complaint committee) are insufficient to prevent sexual harassment.
Our survey report has ample evidence to prove that women are harassed in their respective workplaces in all sectors: private, government, development sector, school, colleges and unorganized sectors. Employers have not formed the sexual harassment complaint committee, haven’t taken any steps for awareness among employees about sexual harassment laws and ensuring redressal to the victims. The same position is of the government, it is too slow in publicizing the law, in effecting police reform and carrying out other important recommendations of the act.         
Key findings
·         Only 26 % women occupy the managerial position.
·         55 % women felt discomfort and fear while talking on the issue of their sexual harassment or colleagues.
·         60 % women are sexually harassed at the workplace. 35 % accepted they are harassed, while 25 % said their women colleagues were harassed.
·         Only 8 % victims filed complaint against sexual harassment in different forums such as; police stations, Mahila Thana, women helpline, complaint committee etc.
·         47 % sexual harassment cases occurred in unorganized sector, 28 % in private sector and 25 % in the government sector.
·         71 % of the harassed women were literate, while, 29 % were illiterate.
·         48 % women said that their employers take steps for their safety.
·         Only 25 % respondents said that the sexual harassment complaint committee has been formed in their organization/institution.
·         97 % respondents said that their office does not display any folder or poster on awareness about laws relating to sexual harassment.
·         17 % total respondents and 20 % women respondents hardly were aware of the Vishakha Guidelines.
·         78 % respondents felt that sexual harassment has increased in the recent years.
·         The Act does not specifically provide that in case where the sexual harassment complaint committee is not formed and the organization is having more than 10 staffs then whether it can be governed by the local complaint committee or not. The local complaint committee shall also take up those cases.
·         The definition of the sexual harassment in the Act is not exhaustive, thus, it gives a loophole to the perpetrators to escape from the charge of sexual harassment. The Act must cover words like stalking, staring to remove the vagueness of the definition.
·         Every institution’s complaint committee must submit a quarterly report and an annual report to the government and must be accessible to the public at large. 
·         A review or the social audit of the functioning of the local complaint committee and the internal complaint committee must also be conducted at a regular interval to act as a watchdog for the proper executions of their functions. 
·         The government shall propagate the provisions of the act to the general masses by regularly advertizing in the radio, television, posters, hoardings, wall writings and through nukaad natak.
·         An employee’s tribunal shall be formed at the block, district, state and national level to deal with such cases.
·         There should be a nodal officer at district level as per the provision of the act. Moreover, the nodal officer must be a woman and shall have the knowledge of law as well as should have the capacity to counsel the victim.
·         The nodal officer shall also be provided the training on the legal aspects as well.
·         The government should issue order and ensure that all the government departments as well as the private organizations/institution have a sexual harassment complaint committee at their workplace.
·         The government should constitute a regulatory body comprising bonafide citizens, including 50 % women, to supervise complaint committees at workplace. The regulatory body should review the implementation of sexual harassment act every annum.
·         The training of police officials, police personnel, magistrates to make them aware of different provisions of sexual harassment Act.
·         The government should make mandatory the training of complaint committee members and they should hold meetings to review situation quarterly.   
In conclusion, this survey report gives detail study of the status of the working women in 50 institutions and shed light on various forms of sexual harassment faced by women at workplace.  It evidences that only a few institution and organizations have sexual harassment complaint committee. Even those institutions having sexual harassment complaint committees are not functional.  
Had the Supreme Court’s Vishakha Guidelines and the Sexual harassment of women at workplace (prevention, prohibition and redressal) Act, 2013 been implemented at most of the workplaces then most of the acts of sexual harassment might not have occurred and the women would have been saved from victimization of sexual harassments and discriminations at their workplaces.
The failure of the government to implement the sexual harassment laws at the workplace and prevention of the occurrences of such acts, the indifferent and insensitive approach of the employers to implement the rules and regulations relating to sexual harassment are the matters of grave concern.
For the first time such survey has been conducted by the institution in a very small sphere but even then 60 % cases of sexual harassment of women has been found in the whole survey according to the response of the women which has been discussed in detail in the present report.
The report provides us a glance of the existing situation in Patna. While talking to the women respondents they felt discomfort and were fearful of losing their jobs (55%). Moreover, most of the men had occupied the managerial level posts (72%) and there was a huge difference in the pay scale of men and women, which suggested that the women have do not have a say in most of the matters in the organization. The women were not aware of the sexual harassment laws also (only 20% women aware). And, almost half of them were unaware of their rights. Most of the sexual harassment occurs in the unorganized sector (47%), followed by private sector (28%) and at last in the government sector (25%). Moreover, at most of the institutions the sexual harassment complaint committee has not been formed (only 25% respondents affirmed its formation) and only 8% of the victims so far had approached a forum for redressal. 
The study has revealed that a large number of the working women are affected by the incidents of sexual harassment at their workplace. But, unfortunately the government is not concerned with their situation as no study and survey so far has been conducted by the Government of Bihar to know the actual situation of women at the workplaces. Moreover, the data of the Bihar police even does not provide an account of the sexual harassment cases at large except the sexual harassment of women at workplace cases. Moreover, even some of steps taken by the government are not enough to curb sexual harassment. The situation of the Central government is also the same as it also does not have data specifically on sexual harassment of women at workplace.  

Presentation of the report provided below:


For full PDF please go to the following link 

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