It is the responsibility of every employer to ensure safety of women in a work environment and improve their participation. This will contribute to realization of their right to gender equality and result in economic empowerment and inclusive growth and benefit the nation as a whole.
Sexual Harassment at workplace is an extension of violence in everyday lffe and is discriminatory and exploitative, as it affects women's right to life and livelihood.
In India, for the first time in 1997, a petition was filed in the Supreme Court to enforce the fundamental rights of working women, after the brutal gang rape of Bhanwari Devi a social worker from Rajasthan. As an outcome of the landmark judgment of the Vishaka and Others v State of Rajasthan the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013, was enacted wherein it was made mandatory fo, every employer to provide a mechanism to redress grievances pertaining to workplace sexual harassment and enforce the right to gender equality of working women. The Act is also unique for its wide ambit as it is applicable to the organized sector as well as the unorganized sector.
Who is an Employer
An employer refers to:
1. The head of the department, organization, undertaking, establishment, enterprise, institution, office, branch or unit of the Appropriate Government or local authority or such officer specified in this behalf.
2. Any person (whether contractual or not) responsible for the management, supervision and control of a designated workplace not covered under clause (i).
3. A person or a household who employs or benefits from the employment of domestic worker or women employees.
Responsibilities of the Authorities
Under the law the employer/DO is obliged to create a workplace free of sexual harassment. It is the responsibility of the Employer in general to:
1. Create and communicate a detailed policy.
2. Ensure awareness and orientation on the issue.
3. Constitute Complaints Committee/s in every workplace and district so that every working woman is provided with a mechanism for redress of her complaint(s);
4. Ensure Complaints Committees are trained in both skill and capacity.
5. Prepare an annual report and report to the respective state government.
6. District Officer will also appoint a nodal officer to receive complaints at the local level.