A special Seminar on “Sexual Harassment of Women at Work Place – Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal” was organized at AIACHE Centre, New Delhi on 25-26 August, 2017. This Seminar was sponsored by the United Board. A total number of 43 faculty from AIACHE member institutions as well as from the Delhi University Colleges attended this Seminar.
The Objectives of the Seminar were:
- To understand the rights and privileges of the employees.
- To understand what is sexual harassment
- To understand why sexual harassment takes place
- To understand relationship issues related to sexual and sexual harassment.
- To differentiate the silent and rebellious response to sexual harassment.
- To understand the rights and privileges of employees to protect against sexual harassment of women at workplace.
- To become knowledgeable about the provisions in the Act related to the protection against sexual harassment of women in the Constitution of India.
- To become aware of the Prevention of Harassment in the Workplace.
- To understand the redressal mechanism in educational institutions.
Statement of the Participants presented at the end of the Seminar
The participants comprised of: the faculty of various institutions of higher education in India and also students from a few colleges in Delhi, who are students and staff member of the Gender-Champion club of their respective colleges. Some of the faculties are also members of the ICC in their respective colleges. Collectively acknowledging the seriousness of the sexual harassments at workplace with specific reference to institutions of higher education, the participants actively collaborated in thoughts and shed much light on the current state of affairs of women’s position vis-a-vis sexual harassment and the untrodden possibilities of redressal of the same. The participants are of the opinion the informal and formal redressal has not helped in eradicating the problem from the root. As a result, the duties and responsibilities of the Internal Complaints Committee increases along with that of the other gender-neutral nodal bodies working as equal stakeholders in the institutions and its community.
The strategic measures that the institutions take to redress a gender-based violence on its employees or students are not enough in the course of the whole issue. The probable reasons behind this observation are enumerated as follows:
- Lack of Awareness among the female employees and students who are not much knowledgeable about their own sexual rights and privileges.
- A tendency of “curricularization” of patriarchal values deeply embedded in their conscience act like a detrimental effect for building their mindset against discrimination and violence.
- In most institutions the lack of ICC plays a critical role in hearing out or giving a safe-space for students and employees.
- The scope of ICC’s function is limited in the process and often the victims fall into the pressure of delayed redressal.
- Often the scope of ICC gets curtailed due to sudden withdrawal from the victim’s personal or family side due to fear of stigma and peer-pressure.
Keeping in purview the above-mentioned observations, the participants come up with some conclusive recommendations that can ensure a better and more effective functioning of the ICCs in the institutions. This can also be looked upon as a positive step towards the overall eradication of sexual violence meted upon marginalized genders.
- Institutions must be mandated more rigorously to establish ICC functioning actively within the campus. Proper documentation of the awareness building activities and details of complaints and redressal throughout the year should be recorded and put into the Annual Report of the institutions.
- UGC or the HE apex body must take responsibility of funding the establishment and functioning of ICC in the institution. Otherwise, the management should explore all possibilities (including wiring in public or private corporate or social bodies as supporters and collaborators) of funding pedagogic and action centric events that would be conducted by the ICC in the campus.
- A comprehensive campus-specific sexual harassment policy should be framed by the institution which should prioritize the interest and redressal of the harassment that has been inflicted on the victim.
- The ICC should have the power to take necessary disciplinary action against the respondent without the intervention of any outside agency. Also, the ICC should have the power to take assistance of outside agencies like police, human rights and NGOs if required, to redress a particular incident/issue.
- The ICC can create networking and partnering with socially active bodies and UB to provide overhead support along with AIACHE.
- The composition of ICC should be of members who themselves are actively gender-neutral in their judgement and are well-aware and in convergence with the vision, goal and responsibility of the ICC. The members should also have the capability of discerning and redressing an issue suitably with the right discretion and objectivity. Student member should also be considered as a part of ICC.
- The ICC has the responsibility to conduct regular awareness-building programmes in the form of workshops, seminars, short-term and long-term courses to make the students and faculty as well as non-teaching staff amply aware and knowledgeable about their rights.
- The awareness can also be built through incorporation of Gender Sensitization and Gender Studies as a compulsory course in the curriculum like Environmental Sciences and Value Education and not as an optional paper in Higher Education. Properly channelized and trained faculty should be hired to take such classes.
- Employees should be compulsively trained in gender-sensitization courses before and during their teaching tenure.
A few photographs of the Seminar are being given below.