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No doubt – This is from the Horses Mouth!!
As a commitment to society and itself, KelpHR has been at the helm of understanding the nuances of Anti- Sexual Harassment Law in India, its implementation, progress and the acceptance in the corporate world.
This time, we have hit the nail on its head!!
We had the most enlightening conversation with Harshada Patil, who is a professional NGO worker and is on the ICC panel for many organisations and assisting on reported cases of Sexual Harassment of Women at the Workplace. Our conversation with her, has revealed many angles of this policy that will benefit ICC members, in particular.
To begin with, an often misunderstood aspect is the ‘Types of Sexual Harassment’ and how it is viewed. So, to clarify and classify, we could picturise it this way :
All these 4 levels are further associated with 4 situations at the Workplace :
What, therefore, is the approach of the ICC, in the above situation, is clearly determined by multiple factors :
These are blaring questions facing the ICC as they progress in their role. In the absence of clarity, there arises many inconsistencies in the understanding of the law, reported case and recommendations made to the the Head of the organisation.
Technology – A boon or abane?
As we explore the matter further , we cannot ignore the role of technology in this matter especially due to the speed with which information is available for all. As pointed out by Mrs Patil, channels like Facebook, WhatsApp are definitely a boon as they document every conversation and retrieval of this data is possible, at the enquiry stage.
As ICC members, one has the rights of the civil court and can examine messages shared, call records, email, chat messages, etc. Every ICC member should therefore, be vigilant of these channels to understand the case better.
In the absence of the ‘Prevention and Prohibition’ related activities, what emerges, surprisingly, is the lack of knowledge of the policy – which therefore, can then be connected to the mis-use of the policy or malicious complaints.
As much as malicious complaints are only few in number, it definitely shows the lack of understanding and respect for the many organisations that worked relentlessly to make this law available to the Indian women. Therefore, the plea of experts who conduct awareness programs, is that this policy should not be mis-used for personal vengeance.
Challenging of Evidence and Witnesses – Shouts or Sensible Conversations?
While the law allows for cross examination of all evidence presented, by the respondent and the aggrieved employee, there are instances when this discussion can turn out to be unruly.
However it is a good and recommended method during gross inconsistencies between statements of the aggrieved employee and respondent
Ground rules need to be established by the ICC for evidence and witnesses to be presented for questions. Both parties can then follow the protocol and work in a manner that allows for all members to understand the case better.