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Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace

The Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013 is a legislative act in India that seeks to protect women from Sexual Harassment at their place of work.

Two types of Sexual Harassment

There are legally recognized –

1. Quid Pro Quo Sexual Harassment

2. Hostile Environment Sexual Harassment


Quid Pro Quo Sexual Harassment

  • Occurs when someone with authority over an employee attempts to trade sex for job-related favors, such as:

- Promotion

- Raises

- Bonuses

  • Submission to or rejection of sexual advances from the supervisor is used as the basic for employment-related decisions.

Classic Examples –

  • “If you want a promotion , you must sleep with me.”
  • “If you do not want to be disciplined for being late and missing work, you must go out an date with me.”

Hostile Environment Sexual Harassment

This type of Sexual Harassment occurs when a co-worker or supervisor in the workplace makes sexual advances or comments to an employee that, while not affecting promotions or the future of the employee's job, makes the working environment of the employee offensive and hostile. In general, the comments tend to affect the employee's ability to do her job. Some instances of hostile environment sexual harassment can be:

- Personal questions of a sexual nature

- Vulgarities and other offensive language

- Physical conduct that is sexual or degrading to any reasonable person

- Any sexually explicit or offensive pictures or literature that is in plain site of other employees

Causes Of Sexual Harassment

1.Socialization : The way in which men and women were brought up to see themselves and others strongly influences their behavior.

2.Power games : Some men feel threatened by the career advancement of women. Other men who have recently gained positions of power may also try to prove themselves by harassing women subordinates.

3.Moral values, divorce, disputed marriages and cultural difference : In time of moral laxity, when extra-marital affairs and “one-night stands” are broadly accepted, when some people equate monogamy, it is relatively easy for people to indulge in office flirtations, whether one-sided or mutual.

4.Credibility and Victim-blaming : Management may take the word of senior person rather than that of a subordinate, particularly if the managers concerned are all men.

The Common tendency of Victim-blaming often causes the plaintiff to end up virtually as the accused.

“However I dress, whatever I go,

My eyes is yes, and my no is No”

5.Aggressiveness or bravado : Men in groups often behave differently from how they would as individuals. “gang harassment”

6.Lack of Company Policy


Some examples of Behavior that constitute Sexual Harassment at the Workplace

1. Making sexually suggestive remarks or innuendos.

2. Serious or repeated offensive remarks, such as teasing related to a person’s body or appearance.

3. Offensive comments or jokes.

4. Inappropriate questions, suggestions or remarks about a person’s sex life.

5. Displaying sexist or other offensive Pictures, Posters, mms, sms, Whatsapp or E-mails.

6. Intimidation, threats, blackmail around sexual favors.

7. Threats, intimidation or retaliation against an employee who speaks up about unwelcome behavior with sexual overtones.

8. Unwelcome social invitations, with sexual overtones commonly understood as flirting.

9. Unwelcome sexual advances which may or may not be accompanied by promises or threats, explicit or implicit.

Impact of Inappropriate Behavior

The impact of sexual harassment at the workplace is far-reaching and is an injury to the equal right of women. Not only does it impact her, it has a direct bearing on the workplace productivity as well as the development of the society. Below is a list of select examples of such negative impacts.


How it Affects


• Decreased work performance

• Increased absenteeism, loss of pay

• Loss of promotional opportunities

• Retaliation from the respondent, or colleagues/ friends of the respondent

• Subjected to gossip and scrutiny at work

• Being objectified

• Becoming publicly sexualized

• Defamation

• Being ostracized

• Having to relocate

• Job and career consequences

• Weakened support network


• Depression

• Anxiety, panic attacks

• Traumatic stress

• Sleeplessness

• Shame, guilt, self-blame

• Difficulty in concentrating

• Headaches

• Fatigue, loss of motivation

• Personal Difficulties with time

• Eating disorders (weight loss or gain)

• Feeling betrayed and/or violated

• Feeling angry or violent towards the respondent

• Feeling powerless

• Loss of confidence and self esteem

• Over all loss of trust in people

• Problems with intimacy

• Withdrawal and isolation


THE FIRST STEP To Prevention is Recognition

Workplace Sexual Harassment is behavior that is UNWELCOME SEXUAL in nature A SUBJECTIVE experience IMPACT not intent is what matters Often occurs in a matrix of POWER


“Sexual Harassment” includes anyone or more of the following unwelcome acts or behavior (whether directly or by implication), namely:

1. Physical contact or advances;

2. A demand or request for sexual favors;

3. Making sexually colored remarks;

4. Showing pornography;

5. Any other unwelcome physical, verbal or non-verbal conduct of a sexual nature


An act to Provide protection against a sexual harassment of women at workplace and for the prevention and redressal of  harassment and foe matters connected therewith or incidentals there to.

Reasons for this Act

Sexual Harassment at a workplace is considered violation of women’s right to equality, life and liberty. It creates an insecure and hostile work environment, which discourages women’s participation in work, thereby adversely affecting their social and economic empowerment and the goal of inclusive growth.

With more and more women joining the workforce, both is organized and unorganized sector , ensuring an enabling working environment for women through legislation is felt imperative by the Government.


Through the Criminal Law (Amendment), Act, 2013, Section 354 was added to the Indian Penal Code  that stipulates what consists of a sexual harassment offence and what the penalties shall be for a man committing such an offence. Penalties range from one to three years imprisonment and/or a fine. Additionally, with sexual harassment being a crime, employers are obligated to report offences.


Dealing with a False/ Malicious Complaint

  • If complaint is false with malicious intent, the complainant can be penalized as per the service Rules.
  • An enquiry to do conducted prior to establishing malicious intent
  • Mere inability to prove complaint will not attract penalty.
  • Any Malicious complaint by a woman will attract the same punishment, a man who has been found guilty of the offence at the workplace suffers.

Why is it important to prevent sexual harassment in our workplace

  • Sexual harassment harms us all.
  • The most important part of our company values is to ensure all employees are treated with respect and dignity.
  • Engaging in, condoning, or not reporting sexual harassment are in direct conflict with our values.
  • Compliance with Title VII of the Civil Rights Act which prohibits sex discrimination (including gender identity, change of sex and/or transgender status) .
  • Compliance with similar state civil rights laws and fair employment laws.


Publised On: Apr 02, 2018

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