Mahatma Gandhi Community Forum

Sexual Harassment at Work Place by Prof. Vibhuti Patel

Subject:Women Studies/Gender Studies Paper: Women and economics
In the month following the gang rape of a 23-year-old physiotherapist in a moving bus in Delhi on 16th December 2013, debates over the social construction of gender that perpetuates sexual harassment in all walks of life have taken centre stage in India. The general public, community leaders, parents, youths, education providers, corporate, policy makers, politicians and the media: all are discussing the prevalence of sexual violence in our society. The masses, spanning four generations, have started deconstructing workplace safety in the context of misogyny, barbarism, the influence of pornography in valorising sadomasochistic relations between men and women, the influence of Westernisation on women’s dress codes, consumerist culture, hedonism, and how the chivalry toward women that existed among civilized cultures is being replaced by hostility toward women.

Sexual harassment at the workplace has been one of the central concerns of the women's movement in India since the '80s. After 30 years of consistent effort, Indian women have managed to get The Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013 and rules for the same are awaited so that the Act can be implemented. Due to pressure from child rights organizations, previous year the Parliament of India passed The Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012, aimed at protecting children in India against the evil of child sexual abuse. It came into force on 14-11-2012, Children’s Day (in India) along with the rules framed under the Act.

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Comment by Prof. Vibhuti Patel on May 21, 2018 at 20:25

Women’s Movement against Gender Based Violence:
During the 1980s, militant action by the Forum Against Oppression of Women (Mumbai) against the sexual harassment of nurses in public and private hospitals by patients and their male relatives, ward-boys and other hospital staff; of air-hostesses by their colleagues and passengers; of teachers by their colleagues, principals and management representatives; of PhD students by their guides and so on and so forth received a lukewarm response from the trade unions and adverse publicity in the media (FAOW, 1991). But this trivialisation did not deter the women's rights activists. More and more working women started taking systematic action against SHW. Baailancho Saad ('Women's Voice') in Goa mobilised public opinion through demonstrations, rallies and sit-ins against their chief minister (in 1990) who sexually harassed his secretary, till the minister was forced to resign. (Chorine et al, 1999).

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