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SEXUAL HARASSMENT

SEXUAL HARASSMENT

Sexual harassment at the work place is rampant but no one talks about it -- 17% of working women in major cities have admitted to it. However, most of these women said the harassment wasn't physical. It revealed high incidence of sexual harassment in both organized and unorganized sectors. The research was jointly conducted by Oxfam India and the Social and Rural Research Institute, a wing of IMRB International in Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore, Chennai, Kolkata, Ahmedabad, Lucknow and Durgapur and covered 400 working women.

"Most women faced incidents that were non-physical. 66 of the 400 respondents faced a cumulative of 121 incidents of sexual harassment. About 102 of the 121 incidents were reported to be non-physical, whereas the remaining 19 incidents were physical," the report said. It added: "While 87% of the general population and 93% of working women respondents reported awareness of sexual harassment of women at workplace, a majority of the victims didn't resort to any formal action against the perpetrators. The top three industries unsafe for women are labourers (29%), domestic help (23%) and small-scale manufacturing (16%)."

Nisha Agrawal, CEO, Oxfam India, said, "Violence against women is a human rights violation - be it domestic violence within homes or sexual harassment at workplace. Oxfam India strongly believes in the right of every woman to a violence-free workplace. Each one of us has to take a stand and say 'No to Violence against Women." A majority of respondents (both general population and working women) perceived women working in the unorganized sectors to be more susceptible to sexual harassment due to lack of awareness of legislation. Also, 26% of working women reported to be the sole earning members of their families, indicating that economic vulnerability renders them further vulnerable to harassment.

Expert speak

There isn't a single woman who hasn't faced sexual harassment at some point of time, maybe in the office or on her way to work. They're forced to keep quiet because if they make a noise about it they face more harassment. People in position misuse their power to harass women; it may not always be physical but also verbal or just vulgar gestures. Sexual harassment is more prevalent in unorganized sectors; if women there complain, they tend to lose their jobs. It's the employers' responsibility to protect the rights of women employees and develop intolerance against sexual harassment.







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