Harassment in the Workplace

December 15, 2011 by staff 

Harassment in the Workplace, Harassment at workplace is usually associated with women, but with the growing number of women in higher positions, there is genuine concern among men that they too can be victims of sexual harassment at the workplace. Accepting that factor, the parliamentary standing committee on human resource development (HRD), examining the Protection of Women Against Sexual Harassment at Workplace Bill, 2010, has suggested that the government enable provisions in the proposed law through which circumstances of sexual harassment cases of men too can be explored and tackled.
An interesting move as it looks on the surface, men share their side of the story. Rishab Mathur, owner of TBSP, restaurant and catering services says, “Since our society is moving from being a primarily male-dominated one to that of equals, there is a need to get a revised version of many of those ‘stone-age’ laws. And especially when today’s fast paced society requires both the sexes to perform at par, it becomes a necessity for the laws, which were primarily single-sex centric, to answer for both the sexes. Be it the law for sexual harassment at office or the law pertaining to maternity leave.”
Seconds Karan Kapoor, who works in a production house. He says that men do face sexual harassment but it’s generally kept under wraps. “Although only in a miniscule number, cases of sexual harassment of men at workplace do exist. But complaints of sexual harassment from male employees are taken less seriously and so they are hesitant about complaining to their employers. I don’t know about the law, but it should be the employer’s responsibility to investigate harassment claims, regardless of the employee’s gender, and should be responsible enough to take immediate action.”
While taking note of strong reservation and angst expressed by men’s organisations regarding this gender-specific bill believed to be tilted in favour of women, lawyers suggest regular surveys be done to get an idea of sexual harassment of men at the workplace, before bringing any law into force.
Sharing a different viewpoint, Meenakshi Lekhi, advocate, Supreme Court, says that such laws can only be proposed as laws if there are enough cases of men’s harassment at the workplace. “In India, there is less than 9 per cent women in power. Even today, Indian women are not very comfortable about their sexuality, so harassing a man is out of question. So far, I have only dealt with women’s harassment cases at the workplace. However, in recent times there have been cases of young men being harassed by other men at their workplace.”

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