No Means No | What You Need To Know About Sexual Harassment In India
No means no. Right?
Wait. Perhaps it means maybe. Or just, not right now…
Which shade of NO are you on?
Confused? Wondering what I am speaking of?
Let’s go back to 2017.
Hollywood was reeling from the accusations that the #metoo movement had birthed. India showed solidarity (on Twitter,) as quite a few celebs related their own experiences and encounters of sexual harassment. Come 2018, the furore seemed to die down slightly.
Meanwhile, India in mid 2018 was busy applauding and celebrating section 377. Enter Tanushree Dutta. The nation was shocked when actor and philanthropist Nana Patekar was accused of sexual harassment. And as with all such cases, after shock came doubt.
People started comparing the public image of the accused and the accuser. Tanushree Dutta was maligned, her integrity was questioned and her character was doubted. Despite all this, Nana Patekar’s attempts at defending himself only seemed to fuel the fire.
Because while haters were busy hating, women all over India seemed to wake up to harassment. They realised that ‘no’ has just one shade. It means nothing else. But if and when someone interprets their ‘no’ as a ‘maybe later’ or ‘being too pricey,’ women realised they were being wronged.
And we became more and more shocked and benumbed as many men in influential positions were accused of harassment. Women shared their stories, narrated horrifying experiences of harassment, abuse, and rape. When you look at these scenarios closely, you’ll realise 3 salient points:
- Most of these harassment cases were in some way connected to the professional life of the victims.
- The women reporting them, in most cases, did not realise at the time of the act, that they had been abused.
- The victims hesitated to complain due to fear of damaging their career or personal reputation.
And so the questions remain. What is sexual harassment? Are only women victims of harassment? Can men be harassed too? How do we fight against it, especially at the workplace?
There is no “right” answer. But there is a “legal” answer.
Because the Indian Ministry of Women and Child Development empowers us with the “Prevention of Sexual Harassment” act.
What is the PoSH Act?
The PoSH Act outlines exactly what is constituted as sexual harassment, and how to fight against it. This act provides a process that companies must follow, in order to create a safe, equal and happy work environment. The Act sets up a framework for employers and employees on how to approach sexual harassment cases. Unfortunately, most people remain ignorant about this act.
What are we doing about it?
At InsideIIM & Konversations, we feel that workplace harassment is the violation of an individual’s right to equality and freedom. Apart from interfering with employee performance at work, it also adversely affects their social and economic growth. As an organization, we understand and support the people who have been wronged. And we don’t think it’s enough to simply discuss sexual harassment and the #metoo movement on social media.
Which is why we went and made our online offering- a micro course on the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition & Redressal) Act, free of cost for all.
Now, anyone who wishes to understand the PoSH Act and its ramifications can avail this 1 Hr long micro course, absolutely free. With this offering, we join the fight against sexual harassment in our own unique way.
What can you do about it?
Check out the micro course here.
Speaking of the PoSH Act, there is a laundry list of things you must do in relation to this Act, depending on who you are…
If you are an employer, you need to:
- Comply with the Act and avoid penalties
- Make your employees aware of the Act
- Set up an Internal Complaints Committee as per the guidelines mentioned in the Act
As an employee, you need to:
- Be aware of the Act
- Know your rights and responsibilities
- Understand what behaviour constitutes sexual harassment
- Understand the complaint mechanism and investigation process in detail
The above mentioned micro course provides a quick explanation of all these aspects of the sexual harassment Act. It is our wish at InsideIIM & Konversations, to empower women (and men) on how they can take charge and legally fight against harassment. We do not want to be bystanders, but a part of the change that is sweeping the industry.
Meanwhile, to every person reading this, we say it’s time to stop rehearsing confrontations in your head. It’s time to stop holding back. It’s time to set clear boundaries. And learn to respect others’ boundaries. And it’s time to create a healthy, safe and equal professional field for all.