Citizens lack awareness about sexual harassment at work place: Study

Bhubaneswar: Many of the offices in the city still do not have the internal complaint committee to address the sexual offences at workplace, revealed a study conducted by Institute of Social Development (ISD) recently.

The findings of the study were disclosed at a seminar on ‘Sexual harassment of women at workplace’ organized by ISD here today. The study found that in 41% instances, there is no mechanism to deal with sexual harassment cases in the office.

Notably, the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013, clearly says there should be an internal vigilance committee in every office to combat sexual offences within the periphery of the office.

The study, conducted on 150 samples including men and women from goverment, private, corporate and educational institutes, also brought to the fore that in most of the cases women do not register cases against the perpetrators due to stigma, humiliation and the fear of losing the job. It also shows that 36% of the respondents are not aware of the Act at all.

ISD director Subhashree Das said, “The year-long study shows that the employers are ignorant about such offences and the existence of the internal complaint committee. Not only that, even if there is a committee, it is for the formality only. In reality, it hardly works.”

City mayor Ananta Narayan Jena, State Women’s Commission chairperson Lopamudra Baxipatra, social worker B. Girija Devi, ISD chairperson Namrata Chadda were among the dignitaries present in the seminar.

Terming it as the responsibility of the employers as well as the employees to make the Act a success in preventing sexual harassment cases, Girija Devi said, “Employers should be vigilant about what is happening around the office and they should address if a lady complaints rather than terming it a false allegation even before starting an enquiry.”

“It is not only the responsibility of a women employee to be careful about her safety, but the employer and all the other staff including men should be equally responsible for creating a healthy and safe environment in the office,” she pointed out.