Vishaka guidelines: Points to note

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Vishaka guidelines: Points to note
New Delhi, Nov 25: Supreme Court laid down Vishaka guidelines to check sexual harassment of women at workplaces, after a social worker was gangraped in Rajasthan in 1997. This was an unprecedented move as it sought to protest women's right to work freely, with dignity.

According to the guidelines, sexual harassment is defined as any unwelcome sexually determined behaviour & demands from males employees at workplace, such as: any physical contacts and advances, sexually colored remarks, showing pornography, passing lewd comments or gestures, sexual demands by any means, any rumors/talk at workplace with sexually colored remarks about a working woman, or spreading rumours about a woman's sexual relationship with anybody.

As per Vishaka guidelines, employer is expected to set up an 'Internal Complaints Committee' ("ICC") at each office or branch, of an organization employing at least 10 employees.

Also, the government should set up a 'Local Complaints Committees' ("LCC") at the district level to investigate complaints regarding sexual harassment from establishments where the ICC has not been constituted on account of the establishment having less than 10 employees or if the complaint is against the employer.

The Act also requires constitution of the committees, process to be followed for making a complaint and inquiring into the complaint in a time bound manner.

Also, the employer has to provide a safe working environment. The punishments of indulging in acts that may constitute sexual harassment has to be displayed at the workplace, says the ACT,

Also, the employers have to organise workshops and awareness programmes at regular intervals for sensitizing employees on the issues and implications of workplace sexual harassment and organizing orientation programmes for members of the Internal Complaints Committee

The employer is required to treat sexual harassment as a misconduct under the service rules and initiate action for misconduct and monitor the timely submission of reports by the ICC.

If an employer fails to constitute an Internal Complaints Committee or does not comply with any provisions contained therein, the Sexual Harassment Act prescribes a monetary penalty of up to INR 50,000 (approx. US$1,000). A repetition of the same offence could result in the punishment being doubled and / or de-registration of the entity or revocation of any statutory business licenses.

Oneindia News

(With agency inputs)

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