Thursday, October 17, 2013

Summary Report of the Activities in the Project from June to September, 2013 

The report of June to September, 2013 regarding the “Campaign against sexual harassment of women at workplace project” contains detailed account of the activities undertaken under the project such as; various external consultations for planning and implementation of the project, meetings of the complaint committee, training and orientation of the surveyors, an account of data entries, report writing, planning meetings, feedback meetings, strengths and short comings of the project as well as way forward.   

For full Report go through the following link: 


Presentations on the initial plannings and follow up and implementation of the sexual harassment project are provided through the links provided below: 


Report on the third consultation meeting

On 28th September, 2013 the third consultation meeting was held. The meeting was scheduled with the purpose of further planning the implementation and follow up activities in the project.
In the meeting the members of the sexual harassment complaint committee Ms. Neelu, Ms. Shaila Parween, Ms. Shivani were present. Moreover, Mr. Bhushan, senior staff (Accountant cum Admin Assistant) of Mahila Jagaran Kendra, Ms. Puja was present in the consultation.
A brief presentation of the targets achieved and planning of the implementation and follow-up of the project was made by Ms. Puja. The presentation of the project involved following major points:
Targets achieved:
  Conducting the Survey  - took one month
  Data Entry – took 10 days
  Report Writing – took roughly one month
  Consultation – held on 15th September, 2013
  Release of report (public domain and media coverage) - on 15th September, 2013
Implementation and follow-up of the project: Focus Areas
  Bonding with the respondents/ employers/institutions/organizations covered in the survey – Following tools shall be used to make the implementation of the sexual harassment law a ground reality:
§  Initial meetings on setting up the internal complaint committee and their proper functioning
§  Acquiring relevant info about the matter through RTI
§  Developing a training module
§  Training on the Sexual harassment laws, particularly the formation and functioning of complaint committee
  Making it a wide spread issue by linkage with media & networking –
  Linkage with the electronic/print media (Popular media) & social networking for spreading mass awareness on the issue of sexual harassment as well as sexual harassment laws. Moreover, making the government, employers and general mass sensitive through regular awareness programs on electronic media such as; launching women based programs on Doordarshan , AIR and other media channels as well as through popular media such as; Radio Mirchi, Blog activities and other social networking activities.
  Signature campaigns – for passing a state law, survey, study, strong implementation of the act. Making the general mass a part of the signature campaign in manual form or through internet.
  Advocacy with the government –
  Submission of our study report to the government
  RTI for obtaining information that:
  Whether the government has any data of such cases
  The level of implementation of the sexual harassment law passed in the year 2013
  Submitting a list of recommendations to the government bearing the signature of public at large
  Pressurizing the government for making & passing a state law on this matter.
  Follow-up for the implementation of the sexual harassment law by the government on the specified areas provided below:
  Survey and study in the matter
  Ensuring formation of the local complaint committee at the block and district level in each district
  Awareness drives by the government
  Legal trainings of the nodal officers, internal and local complaint committee,
  Constitution of a regulatory body to supervise complaint committees at workplace and review their work.
  Finding out the successful cases
  Finding out the victims of sexual harassment at workplace who have succeeded in their case.
  Compilation of the story
  Formation of book
  Press release of the book

Suggestion on the planning and implementation
  A monitoring shall be undertaken by the sexual harassment complaint committee of Mahila Jagaran Kendra in all the organizations surveyed on the matter of the formation of the sexual harassment complaint committee and its proper functioning.
  In the awareness programs with the electronic or the popular media the state shall not be targeted as we have to make a balanced relationship with the state for achieving our goal in advocacy with the state.
  An RTI shall be made by the organization in matters of:
  Knowledge about the state level sexual harassment complaint committee formed in Bihar.
  Its functioning and name and details of its members.  
  Whether the local level (in each block) sexual harassment complaint committee has been formed or not.
  An RTI shall also be made in the government departments about the facilities provided to the women as well as about the compliance of sexual harassment laws. 
  Submitting a recommendation with the report of our survey as well as the report based on the RTI papers to be filed in the government departments to the Minister and Chief Secretary of the Social Welfare Department of Bihar.

  Pressurizing the government for mass awareness through putting hoardings on public spaces, newspapers and electronic media about the sexual harassment laws. 

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Monday, September 23, 2013

Summary of the Study Report

Introduction to the report 
A survey had been conducted by Mahila Jagaran Kendra in 50 institutions of Patna covering government, private, unorganized and development sectors. The head of the institution, male and female both were covered in the survey. In India, the Vishakha Guidelines, Justice Verma Committee Report and the sexual harassment of women at workplace (prevention, prohibition and redressal) Act, 2013 are some of the legislations to prevent and address the issues of sexual harassment.    
Since the economic liberalization in 1990s, more and more women have joined the workforce.  They have been working in the agriculture, factories, construction work and various government sectors & private sectors and thereby contributing to the economic growth and development.  Nonetheless, it is clear from various national and international reports that women are suffering from sexual harassment at the workplace.
Executive Summary
The women are victim of different kind of violence: abuses and harassment, beating, lewd remarks, stalking, staring, etc in the homes and outside. Despite their contribution to family development, child bearing, social development and overall economy, they are not recognized as equal partner of men and suffer at the hands of male counterparts at workplaces.
Every minute they bear objectionable remarks, unwanted physical touch during performing their duties, on way to home and office, market places etc. Sexual harassment badly affects them psychologically, physically, morally and stigmatizes them in the society. Family and society blame them for the wrong which they haven’t done. They are unable to perform their duties and responsibilities at the workplace. Thus, the family, other women working in the organization, the organizations itself and society become victim but they rather ignore it. If the cases of sexual harassment come to light the victim is either looked down upon by the society, employers and even family members and even tonted for provoking the harasser.
The study suggests that 60 % of the working women face sexual harassment in various forms. This percentage suggests that sexual harassment is very common in workplace. The laws for prevention of crime against women are not being implemented properly neither by the Bihar government nor by the Central government. Whatever, the steps have been taken by the Bihar government (by forming the state level sexual harassment complaint committee and district level local complaint committee) are insufficient to prevent sexual harassment.
Our survey report has ample evidence to prove that women are harassed in their respective workplaces in all sectors: private, government, development sector, school, colleges and unorganized sectors. Employers have not formed the sexual harassment complaint committee, haven’t taken any steps for awareness among employees about sexual harassment laws and ensuring redressal to the victims. The same position is of the government, it is too slow in publicizing the law, in effecting police reform and carrying out other important recommendations of the act.         
Key findings
·         Only 26 % women occupy the managerial position.
·         55 % women felt discomfort and fear while talking on the issue of their sexual harassment or colleagues.
·         60 % women are sexually harassed at the workplace. 35 % accepted they are harassed, while 25 % said their women colleagues were harassed.
·         Only 8 % victims filed complaint against sexual harassment in different forums such as; police stations, Mahila Thana, women helpline, complaint committee etc.
·         47 % sexual harassment cases occurred in unorganized sector, 28 % in private sector and 25 % in the government sector.
·         71 % of the harassed women were literate, while, 29 % were illiterate.
·         48 % women said that their employers take steps for their safety.
·         Only 25 % respondents said that the sexual harassment complaint committee has been formed in their organization/institution.
·         97 % respondents said that their office does not display any folder or poster on awareness about laws relating to sexual harassment.
·         17 % total respondents and 20 % women respondents hardly were aware of the Vishakha Guidelines.
·         78 % respondents felt that sexual harassment has increased in the recent years.
RECOMMENDATIONS
·         The Act does not specifically provide that in case where the sexual harassment complaint committee is not formed and the organization is having more than 10 staffs then whether it can be governed by the local complaint committee or not. The local complaint committee shall also take up those cases.
·         The definition of the sexual harassment in the Act is not exhaustive, thus, it gives a loophole to the perpetrators to escape from the charge of sexual harassment. The Act must cover words like stalking, staring to remove the vagueness of the definition.
·         Every institution’s complaint committee must submit a quarterly report and an annual report to the government and must be accessible to the public at large. 
·         A review or the social audit of the functioning of the local complaint committee and the internal complaint committee must also be conducted at a regular interval to act as a watchdog for the proper executions of their functions. 
·         The government shall propagate the provisions of the act to the general masses by regularly advertizing in the radio, television, posters, hoardings, wall writings and through nukaad natak.
·         An employee’s tribunal shall be formed at the block, district, state and national level to deal with such cases.
·         There should be a nodal officer at district level as per the provision of the act. Moreover, the nodal officer must be a woman and shall have the knowledge of law as well as should have the capacity to counsel the victim.
·         The nodal officer shall also be provided the training on the legal aspects as well.
·         The government should issue order and ensure that all the government departments as well as the private organizations/institution have a sexual harassment complaint committee at their workplace.
·         The government should constitute a regulatory body comprising bonafide citizens, including 50 % women, to supervise complaint committees at workplace. The regulatory body should review the implementation of sexual harassment act every annum.
·         The training of police officials, police personnel, magistrates to make them aware of different provisions of sexual harassment Act.
·         The government should make mandatory the training of complaint committee members and they should hold meetings to review situation quarterly.   
CONCLUSION
In conclusion, this survey report gives detail study of the status of the working women in 50 institutions and shed light on various forms of sexual harassment faced by women at workplace.  It evidences that only a few institution and organizations have sexual harassment complaint committee. Even those institutions having sexual harassment complaint committees are not functional.  
Had the Supreme Court’s Vishakha Guidelines and the Sexual harassment of women at workplace (prevention, prohibition and redressal) Act, 2013 been implemented at most of the workplaces then most of the acts of sexual harassment might not have occurred and the women would have been saved from victimization of sexual harassments and discriminations at their workplaces.
The failure of the government to implement the sexual harassment laws at the workplace and prevention of the occurrences of such acts, the indifferent and insensitive approach of the employers to implement the rules and regulations relating to sexual harassment are the matters of grave concern.
For the first time such survey has been conducted by the institution in a very small sphere but even then 60 % cases of sexual harassment of women has been found in the whole survey according to the response of the women which has been discussed in detail in the present report.
The report provides us a glance of the existing situation in Patna. While talking to the women respondents they felt discomfort and were fearful of losing their jobs (55%). Moreover, most of the men had occupied the managerial level posts (72%) and there was a huge difference in the pay scale of men and women, which suggested that the women have do not have a say in most of the matters in the organization. The women were not aware of the sexual harassment laws also (only 20% women aware). And, almost half of them were unaware of their rights. Most of the sexual harassment occurs in the unorganized sector (47%), followed by private sector (28%) and at last in the government sector (25%). Moreover, at most of the institutions the sexual harassment complaint committee has not been formed (only 25% respondents affirmed its formation) and only 8% of the victims so far had approached a forum for redressal. 
The study has revealed that a large number of the working women are affected by the incidents of sexual harassment at their workplace. But, unfortunately the government is not concerned with their situation as no study and survey so far has been conducted by the Government of Bihar to know the actual situation of women at the workplaces. Moreover, the data of the Bihar police even does not provide an account of the sexual harassment cases at large except the sexual harassment of women at workplace cases. Moreover, even some of steps taken by the government are not enough to curb sexual harassment. The situation of the Central government is also the same as it also does not have data specifically on sexual harassment of women at workplace.  

Presentation of the report provided below:

PRESENTATION OF THE REPORT ON SEXUAL HARASSMENT OF WOMEN AT WORKPLACE

For full PDF please go to the following link 

Opening ceremony

The State level consultation for the effective implementation of the sexual harassment laws was held on 15th September, 2013. The consultation started with the welcoming and introduction of the chief guests present in the event namely; Ms. Indira Jena, Ms.  Abha Singhal Joshi, Ms. Neelu, Ms. Kirti as well as the participants. Thereafter, the guests lighted the lamps (Deep Prajwalan) marking the inauguration of the consultation.  


 Introduction to the consultation

After the inauguration of the consultation, Ms. Neelu, the Chairperson of Mahila Jagaran Kendra gave a brief introduction to the consultation and its objectives. She narrated that since the establishment of Mahila Jagaran Kendra it has been working on the women centric issues. It had worked on violence against women in different geographical regions of Bihar. Further, she said that since in the recent past certain cases related to sexual harassment of women at workplace have come in light, the organization took the responsibility to take this issue in the public sphere and designed a blue print for taking forward this issue. She acknowledged the guidance and support of Ms. Indira Jena, the Co-founder of NIRNAYA for 20 long years as well as for the current assignment. Moreover, she thanked Ms. Abha Singhal Joshi, the Supreme Court Advocate and Legal Advisor to Aap ki kachhari for being a continuous and constant support in the legal areas.

Release of the report

A report on “the sexual harassment of women at workplaces in Patna” was released by the Hon’ble Guests; Ms. Indira Jena, Ms.  Abha Singhal Joshi, Ms. Neelu, Ms. Kirti in the public domain.       

Presentation to the report

A presentation was made by Ms. Puja about the major findings of the report. While presenting the report she mentioned the objectives of the survey and study as “reporting the actual working conditions of women at their workplace, the number of the women affected by sexual harassment at workplace in various sectors, the level of awareness among the respondents (male and female) about the sexual harassment laws, finding out the rate of compliance of the laws, the number of women benefitted by the sexual harassment laws.” While mentioning the key findings she revealed some eye opening facts such as “only 26 % women occupy the managerial position.55 % women felt discomfort and fear while talking on the issue of their sexual harassment or colleagues. 60 % women are sexually harassed at the workplace. 35 % accepted they are harassed, while 25 % said their women colleagues were harassed. Only 8 % victims filed complaint against sexual harassment in different forums such as; police stations, Mahila Thana, women helpline, complaint committee etc. 47 % sexual harassment cases occurred in unorganized sector, 28 % in private sector and 25 % in the government sector. 71 % of the harassed women were literate, while, 29 % were illiterate. 48 % women said that their employers take steps for their safety. Only 25 % respondents said that the sexual harassment complaint committee has been formed in their organization/institution. 97 % respondents said that their office does not display any folder or poster on awareness about laws relating to sexual harassment. 17 % total respondents and 20 % women respondents hardly were aware of the Vishakha Guidelines. 78 % respondents felt that sexual harassment has increased in the recent years.” Further, she also stated the recommendations provided in the report to the government stating that “the definition provided in the act must be specific, submission of quarterly report by complaint committee, awareness campaign by government for propagating the provisions of the related laws, training of the police officials, police personnel, magistrates on legal aspects, establishment of regulatory body to review the implementation of the sexual harassment laws.”

Legal training provided by Ms. Abha Singhal Joshi

Ms. Abha Singhal Joshi, the Supreme Court Adocate and the legal advisor to “Aap ki Kachhari” provided a valuable and informative speech on the legal aspects of the sexual harassment of women at workplaces. She said that we must keep three things in mind when we talk about the sexual harassment, those are; the Constitution of India, the legislations and the judgments. She further informed the participants that we have right to equality, right against discriminatory treatment based on gender, right to live with dignity, right to freedom of speech and expression and right to practice any business, trade, profession according to our choice. Moreover, the women also have certain special rights, such as, related to marriage, property, wages on workplaces etc.
She further added that despite several provisions for the protection of the right of women they have to face discriminatory treatment on the basis of gender, such as; not getting adequate and proper work/job, wages, facilities and sexual harassment. While taking on the issue of sexual harassment she discussed the Bhawri Devi Case or the Vishakha Vs. state of Rajasthan case (where a social worker was brutally gang raped by the men) and said that in this very case for the first time a guidelines was laid down by the Supreme Court in the year 1997. Thereafter, in the year 2013 a specific legislation was enacted by the legislature named the sexual harassment of women at workplace (prevention, prohibition and redressal) Act, 2013, she said. She informed the participants about the definition of sexual harassment provided under section 2 of the act stating that “any sexually physical contacts or advances, sexually implicit behavior, sexually coloured remarks on physical appearances and signs or symbols, showing pornography, promise of providing gains, threatening the women of bad consequences on her career in present or in future, are covered under the definition of sexual harassment”.
She also explained that a women who alleges that she has suffered sexual harassment at her workplace whether an employee or not will be covered under the definition of sexual harassment. Any government or private institution or organization, or any house hold will be included within the purview of workplace under the act, she added.
While discussing the prevention and complaint procedures, the duties of the employer she said that every employer is under duty to set up a complaint committee at their workplaces. Moreover, a local complaint committee has to be formed by the District Magistrate in every block of each district. Further, she said that the complaint shall be filed by the victim in written to the complaint committee. Thereafter, if the women would agree for conciliation then the matter would go for conciliation otherwise an inquiry will be conducted on the complaint received. Victim can go for 3 months leave after the complaint and can ask for transfer of the perpetrator or herself.  
Further discussing about the false complaint provision provided under section 14 of the act she said that “in most of the cases where such complaints are lodged, the women are further victimized by stating that the women filed a false complaint.”   

Speech by Ms. Indira Jena

Ms. Indira Jena, the Co-founder of NIRNAYA and the feminist activist gave an excellent speech which was so effective that there was a pin drop silence in the entire hall. She started her narration with some of her personal experiences in life relating to the physical, mental, psychological and sexual hazards faced by women starting from home to the workplaces and the world outside. She shared one of such incidence of sexual harassment with a nurse working in her uncle’s hospital to which she was the witness, when she protested such uncivilized behavior she was also harassed by the perpetrator. During that time she was a child and was scared of the whole incident and suffered mental agony. When she discussed this incident with her parents even they were not able to take any action because of the family web. Moreover, also shared that when she was working with a bank she had to face odd behaviours by her male seniors which made her feel uncomfortable but she was not able to protest. After a very long period of time she was able to raise voice against her perpetrators. Further, she also said that when the women organizations including her was protesting against the sexual harassment of women at workplace, then also they had to faced several hazards and the protest was not very successful.
Citing these incidences she said that these incidents occur with most of the women and girls but they suffer in silence. She emphasized that the women must show a stringent attitude against these incidents and they must send a strong message by protesting against atrocities that enough is enough and any kind of violence against women cannot be tolerated any longer. Further, she said that Mahila Jagaran Kendra has been working on the issues of sexual harassment since long period of time excellently and that they will further carry on their tasks with honesty, passion and zeal.         

Speech by Ms. Kirti

Ms. Kirti first of all acknowledged the valuable legal info provided by Ms. Abha Singhal Joshi. She also appreciated the guidance provided by Ms. Indira for further taking forward this issue. While delivering her speech she said that women have not been treated at par with the men in our society from the very beginning and our laws made for the protection of women are evident to this fact. The women in our society have always been subject to atrocities and discriminatory treatment. Therefore, first of all we need to develop such environment where there could be a balance between men and women. She further emphasized that together we all need to address this issue as it is a social concern. Moreover, giving a boost to the participants present in the consultation she said that the women who have faced sexual harassment or rape or have suffered from loss of dignity must not get disheartened and must come forward to deal with the odds as, so that they may serve as a example for them.      

Presentation of the case by the victims

Two cases of sexually harassed women were narrated by the victims themselves who have struggled and are still struggling for justice. They have been an ideal for the other women who have or had suffered from sexual harassment at workplace.
While narrating her case, the Associate Professor of IGIMS said that she was being harassed by the Director of the IGIMS, Mr. Arun Kumar continuously since her appointment in 2011. While narrating the whole incidence she said that she was physically, mentally and sexually harassed by the Director. She was also assaulted by the aides of the Director in the IGIMS campus itself. The Director has lodged several false cases against her in order to prevent her from seeking justice. She also said that she is in a very bad financial condition still she is fighting for justice.
The legal advisor of BELTRON Bhawan said that although she was not sexually harassed, but, her peon was harassed by the senior officers. When Ms. Shivani filed a case against the perpetrator she was sacked from her job along with the victim as a punishment for helping out the victim. Thereafter a long legal battle continued for 2 years and lastly she got victory in her case as justice was delivered.

Open session

In the open session many questions of legal aspects were raised by the participants:
Question: If a case is pending in the High Court, then in that case can the parties approach the Supreme Court?
Answer provided by Abha Sinhgal Joshi: The parties can approach the Supreme Court under special leave petition under Article 136 and Art. 32 of the Constitution of India.
Question: If a person stares women for more than 15 minutes then will it come under the purview of sexual harassment?
Answer provided by Abha Sinhgal Joshi: It depends on the interpretation of the court.
Question: How could the law students be helpful to this campaign against sexual harassment of women at workplace?
Answer provided by Abha Sinhgal Joshi: By associating with the NGOs and providing legal aid to the needy.

Recommendation

The panel of guests agreed to the recommendations provided in the report. They did not make any further recommendations.

Vote of thanks


Ms. Shaila Parween, the Programme Officer of Mahila Jagaran Kendra gave the vote of thanks to the guest, participants, staffs and the volunteers present in the event.