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Gaps in PoSH enforcement, must secure women’s work space: SC

  • Published
    13th May, 2023

Highlighting serious lapses in the implementation of the mandate of the Prevention of Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013, the SC on directed the Centre, states and UTs to verify if all departments had constituted committees under the Act.

What is PoSH Act?

  • The Protection of Women from Sexual Harassment at Workplace Act, 2013 (POSH Act 2013) is a landmark legislation in India that seeks to protect women from sexual harassment. 

Definition of sexual harassment:

Under the 2013 law, sexual harassment includes “any one or more” of the following “unwelcome acts or behaviour” committed directly or by implication:

  • Physical contact and advances
  • A demand or request for sexual favours
  • Sexually coloured remarks
  • Showing pornography
  • Any other unwelcome physical, verbal or non-verbal conduct of sexual nature.
  • The Act traces its origin from Vishaka Judgment of Supreme Court delivered in year 1997, which defined the term of Sexual Harassment and also laid down guidelines for working women irrespective of their employment in public sector or private sector.
  • The horrible tragedy of 16th December, 2012 (Nirbhaya tragedy), escalated the changes in the Criminal law as well as led to enacting the Sexual Harassment Act, 2013.
  • This Act makes it mandatory for employers to provide a safe and secure work environment to female employees.
    • It also requires employers to set up Internal Complaints Committee (ICC) in their organisation to address complaints of sexual harassment. 

What are the issues in the implementation?

There are still several issues in its implementation. Some of these issues are:

  • Lack of awareness about the law among employers and employees
  • Lack of compliance: Even when organizations are aware of the law, there are instances where they fail to comply with its provisions. This is due to a lack of understanding of the requirements of the law or a lack of commitment to implementing the law.
  • Fear of retaliation: Women who report incidents of sexual harassment often fear retaliation from their employers or colleagues.
  • Inadequate redressal mechanisms: Despite the existence of the law, many organizations lack adequate redressal mechanisms to deal with complaints of sexual harassment.
  • Lack of accountability on the part of the organization or a lack of effective enforcement mechanisms.Bottom of Form
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