Social support helps sexual harassment victims: Experts

ST CORRESPONDENT
Sunday, 17 March 2019

Joshi also spoke about the psycho-social aspects of the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Protection, Prohibition and Redressal) Act 2013. She highlighted that these sexual harassment cases affect the performance of female, causing depression and also affect their families.

Pune: Apart from legal aspect in handling sexual harassment cases at workplace, the social aspect also plays a major role in supporting the victim to register her complaint and not feel isolated, say experts at a seminar on Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Protection, Prohibition and Redressal) Act 2013, held by University Women’’s Association, Pune on Thursday.

“One of the major reasons that many women hesitate in coming forward to complain about sexual harassment against them is the fear of character assassination. In several incidents, it was found that colleagues blame the victim for any untoward act that happens, tarnishing her image. This needs to be reduced,”” said Advocate Shruti Joshi one of the panellists at the seminar. “The awareness about sexual harassment is required in every working sector. We shouldn’’t isolate the victim, instead support and encourage her to stand by her complaint,” she added.

Joshi also spoke about the psycho-social aspects of the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Protection, Prohibition and Redressal) Act 2013. She highlighted that these sexual harassment cases affect the performance of female, causing depression and also affect their families.
 
While speaking about the Internal Complaints Committee (ICC) in action and how it was different from #MeToo campaign, lawyer Vaishali Bhagwat said that to get legal justice, it was important to register the complaint. ““The #MeToo campaign was started by women as a platform for women to express their grievances. It allowed several victims to speak out loud about their harassment cases publicly.
 
However, it later turned into defamation cases because the offender’s names were mentioned without providing evidence. Questions like where was the complaint copy or why did not she register the complaint, popped up as and how the campaign snowballed,”” said Bhagwat.

“Nevertheless, women have to understand it was very important to register a complaint with either ICC or in absence of ICC, the local complaints committee so as to get justice. “I realised our country’’s legal system has failed to infuse confidence or faith in women to provide justice in such matter, but now many government sectors are proactively participating in spreading awareness about the act,”” said Bhagwat.
President of University Women’’s Association, Pune, Shabnam Poonawalla said, ““We should draft guidelines where all these queries on the timeline in revealing harassment cases, how to channelise the complaints in the right manner is answered so as to conveniently allow women to lodge complaints.””

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