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No. you won’t. This is the first thought that crosses our mind when we are in a dilemma – whether or not to complain about harassment we encounter at the work. Our country has legislations and rules to combat sexual harassment and it is our duty to foster change in our workplaces by using these instruments of law.
But before that, you need to be clear about what Sexual Harassment is. I would say , any behaviour that is sexual in nature and unwelcome is sexual harassment.( I would recommend you read our previous article where we have discussed this in detail
While the law only protects women, companies should take a unified stand to protect all its employees from any form of Sexual Harassment at the workplace. Some of the big MNCs have already taken this plunge.
Why should I complain?
Because harassment is not ok – It’s as simple as that!
In the Indian culture, women who stand up for their rights are blatantly conferred on the title of a feminist. It’s time to change such deep-rooted misconceptions. As an Indian citizen we have rights and it’s time to exercise these duties (as much as it is a right!).
What do you do when you know you have been harassed?
As soon as an incident occurs, note down the time and date at which it happened. CCTV footage could be checked according to that. If you feel someone else saw the incident, talk to them and ask them to stand by you when you approach the Internal Committee (IC).
If a person at your workplace sends vulgar jokes or pornography which makes you uncomfortable, you should first ask him/her to stop in a gentle yet firm manner. A common myth among Indian men is that when a woman says ‘No’, its actually not so.
Tell the person that when you say ‘No’, you mean it.
However, if they continue to send inappropriate messages, take the matter to the IC. In this case make sure you don’t delete the messages. Any email or message which substantiates harassment is evidence.
When you approach the harasser, don’t go alone. Ask someone you trust to come along with you and it’s better not to get into a threatening mode (after all he/she is your colleague)but make the point clear in a firm manner that if he/she continues such behavior you will have to approach the IC regarding the matter. Be cautious as to who you reveal the details of the incident to. A little caution never hurts!
The law doesn’t say this, but a prudent man would! Be sure you know the law and the policy of the organization regarding sexual harassment. You should be aware of the procedures followed and steps taken.
A word of caution :
Just because you don’t like what a person says or does, it won’t amount to harassment.
Sexual Harassment should be behaviour that is sexual in nature and unwelcome.
A Victim but not victimized
Try to have your friends and people who you trust to be with you. Be aware. Awareness is indispensable. It’s good to have the support of friends, colleagues, supervisors and mentors. You don’t have to tackle the whole world by yourself. We all need each other.
Stand up for you colleagues.
If you notice your colleague being harassed, don’t just stand by and watch. If the victim is upset or worried, lend a helping hand and encourage them to report the matter to the IC. Laws and rules are there to protect us but you need to be humane and your encouragement and support would mean a lot to the person going through crisis.
A word to employers
Take a conscious effort to make your employees aware of the law and policies of the organization. If your organization employs contract workers and others who are not familiar with English language, make communication available in the vernacular language so that they are also assured that they are in a safe working environment.
Try to bring about a change in the attitude towards harassment as a whole. In our culture we tend to hush up such things because it’s considered taboo and we just move on without resolving issues. Bring it out in the open. Have posters in your workplace which will remind employees of the policies regarding harassment at the workplace. You could even do case studies twice year or share them more frequently and involve the employees so that they are more aware and can get them thinking.
Conducting surveys is also a very important step. If you have a high number of harassment incidents at your workplace, it means you are not talking about it and if there are absolutely no incidents being reported that is also risky, make sure your employees are aware of what sexual harassment is and whom to approach in such cases. The more you talk about sexual harassment at the workplace, the more understanding the employees will have and when there is more understanding there is empowerment.
For further details reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org or check out your queries at our forum http://www.kelphr.com/sites/ash/#forum Together let’s make our workplaces a better place.