Preamble of the Constitution of India mention ‘equality of status and opportunity’ and have corresponding guarantee stipulated by Art. 14 of the Constitution. Therefore, equal treatment of both genders is a legal obligation and any discriminatory action, including but not limited to sexual harassment, is considered as fundamental rights infringement. In order to prevent and protect women against sexual harassment at workplace and for the effective redress of complaints of sexual harassment, in December 2013 The Prevention of Workplace Sexual Harassment Act has been enacted. Noteworthy, this law was enacted 15 years after the landmark case of “Vishakha and others v. State of Rajasthan” and following Supreme Court’s guidelines on the enforcement of the fundamental rights of working women. The petition was filed against State of Rajasthan and Union of India after a woman, employed as a social worker with the Government of Rajasthan, was brutally raped for impeding child marriage, common practice at that period of time. For now, every employer is obliged to provide a redress mechanism for grievances in case of sexual harassment, hence, enforcing gender equality in workplace.
A workplace is defined as “any place visited by the employee because of or due to the course of employment, including transportation provided by the employer for accomplishing of such journey.”
This workplace’s definition covers both the organised and unorganised sectors, thus, includes both public and private organisations as well as societies, NGO or service providers, hospitals/nursing homes, dwelling places or houses.
This Act also prescribes two kinds of authorities that can consider complaints: the Internal Complaints Committee (ICC), which should be established in an organisation with a woman working as the chairperson, and the Local Complaints Committee (LCC), which enables women in an unorganized or small establishments to approach Government officials to resolve relevant issues.
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