When I attended the first training on anti-sexual harassment, I was upset on how the Bill was only women centric and harassment of men was not even considered. Being a woman who has been fortunate to be given strength and confidence I always thought it should not be that difficult.
However, more I read about women’s issues and encountered women victims I realised that it is far more difficult for a woman to protest and protect her own interests in the workplace.
Over the last three years I have spent considerable time to understand the Act, it’s raison d’etre and how it is to be implemented…
This Act is unique due to many reasons but one of its primary conditions is that the employer is responsible to build awareness on what is sexual harassment and what is the consequence of this. I have seen employers shy away from this thinking why put ideas in people’s heads!
However that is a dangerous approach. At bare minimum, we need to make clear what is not acceptable. Next, information about the ICC should be readily available to all employees. Finally, line managers need to be given a heightened awareness of the situations and also the Act.
The provision to have an ICC (or IC, in the latest amendments) within the organisation to support women will reduce the number of complaints which can very well be handled internally. However if the complaint is severe and involves attempt to rape charges etc, an immediate police complaint must be facilitated even while the internal investigation may be in process.
It is a fairly easy Act to understand and implement and organisations must follow these steps for sure
- Create a IC, including an external member
- Write up a policy on process and consequences
- Build awareness on the Act and the internal policy
- Train the IC
- Ask IC to submit quarterly reports on meetings and actions taken
- Rebuild awareness
- IC members serve a tenure of three years after which they maybe reappointed.