On 13th August 1997, the Supreme Court of India held that sexual harassment of women is a violation of the fundamental right of women to work in a safe environment. The Supreme Court has defined ‘sexual harassment’ to include.
- Physical contact and advances
- Demand or request for sexual favors
- Sexually coloured remarks
- Display of pornography
- Any other unwelcome physical, verbal or non-verbal conduct of a sexual nature.
Often such behavior goes unpunished because of hesitation on the part of women to report such behavior out of a sense of shame or fear or both. It is important for women to protest against any behavior that they feel is unwanted and unacceptable.
The Internal Complaint Committee (ICC) at The Other Media has been set up with the aim of providing women an appropriate complaint mechanism against unwelcome sexually determined behavior whether directly or by implication. Additionally, even though the law does not provide for it, the ICC at TOM does not restrict itself to complaints only from women, and is open to entertaining complaints from all genders.
What should you do if you are sexually harassed?
- Talk to somebody you trust about the harassment. Approach any member of the ICC with your complaint.
- Do not ignore the harassment in the hope that it will stop on its own.
- Keep a record of all incidents of sexual harassment. If you feel the need to register a formal complaint later, this record will be helpful.
What action can be taken against the offender?
The ICC is deemed to be an Inquiry Authority and the report of the Complaint Committee is deemed to be an Inquiry Report under the rules.
After it has been proved that the offender has indulged in sexual harassment in the work place, appropriate disciplinary action would be taken against him/her irrespective of his/her position in the organization.
The ICC can recommend the following measures:
- Written apology
- Reprimand or censure
- withholding of promotion
- monetary fine
- withholding of pay rise or increments,
- terminating from service
- undergoing a counseling session
- carrying out community service.
Where such conduct amounts to a specific offense under the Indian Penal Code or under any other law, a complaint will be made to the appropriate authority for action in accordance with the law.
Care shall be taken by the committee to ensure that the victims of sexual harassment and the witnesses shall not be victimized while dealing with the complaint.
The Role of the Committee
- To act as Inquiry Authority on a complaint of sexual harassment.
- To ensure that victims and witnesses are not victimized or discriminated because of their complaint.
- To take proactive measures towards sensitization of staff on gender issues.
National Commission for Women’s 24×7 Helpline for Women
The dedicated round the clock (24×7) Helpline number is 7827170170.
The website for the helpline is www.ncwwomenhelpline.in.
The Internal Complaints Committee Against Sexual Harassment
The present members of the ICC to deal with the complaints of sexual harassment in accordance with the guidelines laid down by the Supreme Court of India relating to sexual harassment of women workers at work places.
Pooja Kumar. Coordinator, Coastal Resource Centre, The Other Media.
Saravanan. General Secretary. The Other Media.
Durga Moorthy, Campaigner, The Other Media
Poongkhulali B, Advocate, Madras High Court (External Member)
Karuna D.W. Azim Premji University. (External Member)
In case of complaint against one of the employees of The Other Media that is on the ICC, the chairperson of The Other Media may reconstitute the ICC.