How safe is your workplace?
If you are a girl than you must have been raised with the “teachings” that you should be conscious of where you go, with whom you go, what you wear etc. But when you grow up, you will realize in the process that you are not safe anywhere, with anyone. Your male cousin eyes you with lust when you go out with them. Your male friends cannot stop checking you out and commenting over your body parts “jokingly.” Guys in college with you cannot stop commenting over your body and looks. (Seriously? Who gave them the right to do so?) And when you finally step out of your cocoon and start to work, you are nervous, excited, and scared, and the worst thing that you can expect is being sexually harassed!!
Despite the popular belief, sexual harassment does not only involve being intimate and it not only effects a person’s physical well being, instead, in addition to that, it also has a damaging effect on the person suffering from it mentally and emotionally. It can lead to low performance in the office, disinterest towards one’s job, hostility towards colleagues of the opposite sex etc.; it can prove to be permanently damaging in some serious cases to an individual’s mental and emotional health. Ananya Bhattacharjee, who hails from West Bengal, got a well paid job in a renowned Multi National Company in Benagaluru. She was only 23 and was super excited on the prospect of joining such a huge company in a big city. After arriving to the city, she was greeted by her relatives and she started working from the very next day. Beginning months were great, she learnt a lot and made a very large group of fun friends. She was happy and satisfied! But after 8 months, she left her dream job!! But why? She started reciting her terror tale. She said, “One fine day, my boss called me in his cabin. I went and he asked me to sit down it never happens so I asked him what is that he requires of me? He smiled a lascivious smile and said…a lot! I smelled a rat and asked him to state clearly what he wants. He came to me and started playing with my hair and told me I was beautiful. I felt uncomfortable so I left somehow. It continued for a few days. I decided to complain. The day I complained, he got hold of me in the elevator and grabbed me and started trying to force me into submission; somehow the elevator got called and he was forced to leave me, I ran like mad. I was petrified. The action was never taken and I left the job.”
In most cases, people are forced to give out the embarrassing details of the event which makes them very uncomfortable and then they shy away from filing charges. And even if in some cases, they do end up filing charges, the action is never taken and if the person at fault is at a senior most position and have been working for long in the company then your case ultimately goes for a toss. There are no such guidelines to stop it but you can prevent it. You can check out the “Vishakha” guidelines issued by the Indian government to prevent sexual harassment at workplace in favor of women. According to these guidelines, passing of lewd comments, asking for sexual favors, touching inappropriately, talking inappropriately and more is considered forms of sexual harassment. If any women find the manner of a male colleague offensive or derogatory, she can lodge an FIR or can complain to the HR or Women Security cell of their respective offices. Government has also made it mandatory for all the workplace with a women population to have a Women Safety and Security cell. In my opinion, Women themselves have to take a stand and say “no more” to offensive behavior of male colleagues and stop ignoring it before something happen and you remain damaged forever.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: This article is contributed by Kriti Tiwari, our intern. Kriti is a media student from Mumbai. She loves to read and is passionate about writing and dancing. She loves music and is ever so curious to know more and more about the world.