The Sexual Harassment Of Women At The Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition And Redressal) Act- 2013 states and defines sexual harassment as/to include, one or more of the following behaviour, (whether directly or by implication) Physical contact and advances; or a demand or request for sexual favours; or making sexually coloured remarks; or showing pornography; or anyother unwelcomed physical, verbal or nonverbal conduct of sexual nature;
Though this act was intended to protect the rights of the victims, it has in several cases led to wilful misinterpretation of what sexual harassment is in reality.
Pune365 spoke to city women to clear the air on what they believed is sexual harassment at the workplace.
“Anything that a man does that makes me feel uncomfortable is sexual harassment, as far as I am concerned,” says Tejaswini Bhoite, Artist
“There is no perfect definition of sexual harassment and it can be both verbal or physical. There is a difference between a genuine compliment and a sexual compliment.
‘You’re looking good is a compliment, but a man staring at my cleavage and saying that I look good is harassment.” Tejaswini adds.
Sheetal Pawar, Marketing executive says, “We have been living in a world where movies have influenced our lifestyle and this has led to a friendly environment in offices. If a guy or a co-worker is a friend at work, you may share a dirty joke or some fun videos, and this should not be termed as sexual harassment.”
No co-worker or friend will start talking about anything openly without knowing you well enough. If the women and girls have a problem with that, they should voice their concern, rather than ruining someone’s career by accusing them of sexual harassment.” Sheetal adds.
With the recent focus on sexual harassment, there is a lot of confusion on this distinction between friendly behaviour and behaviour that could be overly flirtatious, or disrespectful of the individual, says Nandita Bose, journalist.
It is very important to help people understand that there is a very thin line between these two. Touching a co-worker and making her uncomfortable is sexual harassment and this may include, putting an arm around her waist, standing close to her, brushing against her and the like. This kind of behaviour is certainly unacceptable to any girl.
Wherein hugging a person ( If male and female as a buddy-buddy tone and are good friends apart from being co-worker) exchanging dirty jokes, and socializing outside the office when both people wish to do so is completely acceptable, Bose adds.
Megha Dangat, HR says, “Sexual harassment is unacceptable behaviour towards a female employee that includes anything that makes her feel offended, humiliated or embarrassed. It can be physical, verbal or non-verbal (written). This can happen anywhere and can involve not only female employees, but the males too.
We often deal with cases where girls tend to confuse friendly behaviour with sexual harassment. There is a difference and we need to educate people on the difference as well. The hype around sexual harassment is so high that even an unintentional nudge or push is also termed as sexual harassment.
Although the intention behind such acts is understood well by the woman who has gone through it, we cannot afford to be judgemental or be in anyone’s favour. Megha adds.
Radhika Pillai, Chef says, “Sexual harassment is behaviour that clearly offends you. At times, a coworker is over friendly and they may not realize that their behaviour is hurtful and this is when it is important to stop them there itself.”
Most of us have a friendly relationship with our co-workers and there is nothing wrong with it. I would not mind sharing dirty jokes, a friendly hug or accepting compliments, all of which is perfectly normal.
Yet, I wouldn’t tolerate anyone touching me or pinching me inappropriately or spreading rumours on my character, Radhika adds.
#All views reflected in this article are those of the individual respondents and Pune365 does not necessarily subscribe to them.
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