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Prevention of Sexual Harassment

If all the women are busy empowering themselves, who is preparing men for those empowered women? Women empowerment has been a social stigma for a very long time and does that mean that women always need to be one who has been enduring all the dominance or arrogance shown towards her? in the modern world, women have been forced to go through things which will hurt her dignity but the economic stability was one thing stopping her to stop those go through In this modern world The rate of such menace happening in the nation is increasing at an alarming rate, for which Our country is trying its best to be no more gender biased, provide equal opportunity to both women and men into this progressive world. The legislation is acting as a backbone to sexual harassment. It's been providing the laws which will be providing adequate and specific protection for women.

Sexual Harassment at Work Place

Sexual harassment is not only wrong against women’s body but also against her mental health. Both the country and the legislation has taken main initiatives to prevent the women harassment and not only in general but also in workplace and it is been governed by the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (prevention, prohibition and redressal) 2013

The act has taken prominent steps to Prevent sexual harassment at work place. This act manages to protect women irrespective of any age or employment status be it an organizational or non organizational work environment. Usually a harassment redressal committee will be set up in every company to redress the distress the employee is facing, especially the women.

The act gives the key points on how to utilize it and it goes like, according to section 2(a)(1) a aggrieved woman who is employed or not but subjected to sexual harassment. She may be an intern or the chairperson of the organisation or even women who visit the premises are all being taken into consideration. Inappropriate behaviour should not be tolerated and be recognised and redressed promptly. A police complaint can be filed within 3months of when the incident took place. If the affected woman is not able to lodge a complaint because of any physical or mental condition then a legal representative can do it behalf of them. A request to leave or transfer to any other branch according to section 12 of the Act can be made and granted by the authority.

Sexual harassment at work place was first recognised in India in Vishaka vs. state of Rajasthan this landmark judgement gave a very strong foundation to grievance redressal departments at workplace and provides guidelines to prevent sexual harassment. Supreme court on the convention of elimination of discrimination of women in the workplace was established.

After this landmark judgement the first case was Apparel export promotion council vs. A.K Chopra in this particular case the supreme court repeated the law laid and upheld the dismissal of the a superior officer of the Delhi based Council of appeal export promotion. Who was found guilty of sexually harassing a woman by having a physical contact was not essential for it to call it as a sexual harassment in this judgement the Supreme Court enlarged the definition sexual harassment.

Sexual harassment at workplace is highly prevalent in India and there is a need to provide a positive environment to the women workers. Government should make separate laws dealing with this issue. It should also realize that women worker also constitute a part of working population in India and it’s the duty of the government to provide them security at work. New strategies should be made by the employers and managers to protect the organisation from this evil. Government and employers should ensure that women should be treated equally and gender discrimination should not take place at the workplace. Effective implementation of the policies can reduce the manifestation and mutilation of the sexual harassment to the minimum. One organisation can alter its approach to handle sexual harassment by viewing other organisations tactic. This will reduce or eliminate glitches caused by this harmful transgression.

Online Sexual Harassment

India has not only bagged one of the peak ranks for having the highest number of internet users, but we also ace the statistics of global sexual harassment. Given that online portals can get so harmful, it’s essential to know the resources and rights one has in online harassment. With an omnipresent monster such as the internet that stands within the reach of as many as 4.72 billion users globally, it is very important for users, especially the female users to look into the laws that can look into when in need.

A survey carried out by UK-based humanitarian organisation Plan international involving 14000 women aged 15-25 from various countries including India,

The survey brought up that 58 percent of the respondents accepted having faced online harassment or on different social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, WhatsApp, and TikTok etc.

The first step should be to report the harassment or abuse to the administrator of the website or platform on which it happened. If the issue is not resolved then there's various other ways depending on the grievance of the harassment.

Following areas unit the laws which will be observed victims of online trolling;

Areas of social media law in India are regulated by the Information Technology Act that was enacted in the year 2000. It was enacted to regulate, control and touch upon the problems arising out of it.

Section 66A of the Information Technology Act, 2000 was enacted to ails, comments which might be abusive, derogative, or unwarranted. The violative message will be within the style of text, image, audio, video, or the other electronic record that is capable of being transmitted. Within the current eventualities, such sweeping powers below the IT Act provide a tool within the hands of the government to curb the misuse of the Social Media Law of any kind.

However, in 2015, in a landmark judgment upholding the right to free speech in recent times, the Supreme Court in Shreya Singhal and Ors. Vs Union of India struck down Section 66A of the Information & Technology Act, 2000. The ruling, which is being lauded by the common man and legal luminaries alike, found the Cyber law provision to be open-ended, vague and unconstitutional owing to the restriction it caused to the Indian citizen right to freedom of speech.

A bid to stop unlawful content going viral online in India, the government is on the verge of amending the Information Technology Act (2020). If the new intermediary guidelines receive green lights, social media companies will be more responsible for such potentially harmful content. In an attempt to secure the freedom of speech and expression of Indian internet users, the Supreme Court of India struck down Section 66A of the Information Technology Act in 2015. In 2015 which encompasses the punishment for sending offensive messages through any communication services. However, in spite of the apex court’s move, there exist laws in India that provide legal redressal to females who become victims of online harassment.

Section 66E in the Information Technology Act, 2000

Section 66E mentions the Punishment for violation of privacy. It goes like Whoever, intentionally or knowingly captures, publishes or transmits the image of a private area of any person without his or her consent, under circumstances violating the privacy of that person, shall be punished with imprisonment which may extend to three years or with fine not exceeding two lakh rupees, or with both.

One of the landmark cases held was Biju vs. state of Kerala where Sunil J Thomas the petitioner who was accused for a crime in the town of palakkad on 2015 according to complainant who was a woman is that the accused had offered her to marry and he had taken her to various places during some period of 5 months stayed in different places and committed rape on the false promise of marriage. Subsequently she became pregnant which was aborted after compelling her to do so. Complaint was launched in 2016 alleging above crime and further allegations of taking nude photographs of the victim.

Indian penal code has a major role played in provision of sections for online harassment which is defamation, criminal intimidation, stalking, voyeurism etc.

Section 294 of Indian penal code talks about the obsolescence act or obscene verbal usage in songs or any audio which hurts the affected party then they shall be punished with imprisonment not exceeding 3 months or fine or both.

Section 354 of IPC provides guidelines on Assault or criminal force to women with intent to outrage her modesty this particular section deals with those who use criminal force towards a women with sole intention of outraging the modesty or assault will be punished with imprisonment prescribed not exceeding 5 years and fine or both. Section 354(b) deals with if anyone is forcing or compelling a woman to undress will be punished with 3-7 years of imprisonment and fine. Section 354(c) deals with voyeurism which means if a picture or a video is captured while a woman is having a private act and threatens or not will be punished with not less than 1 year and not exceeding 3 years and shall be liable to fine. Section 354(d) deals with stalking; it's been done both online and offline stalking is wilfully engaged and repeatedly engages in knowing the course of harassment. Punishment would be imprisonment not less than a year and not exceeding 3 years and fine will be imposed.

Section 375 deals with rape and 376(a) talks about the gang rape which is a very serious offence it will be punished with rigorous imprisonment the term shall not be less than 20 years or exceeding to life imprisonment.

Section 499 deals with morphing pictures of women and circulating and sharing it with others with the intention to harass and defame them which are punishable with 2 years of imprisonment or fine or both. IPC section 498 gives a valid ground for divorces and protects themselves from cruelty or mental torture or abuse done to

them by anybody in life.

Nothing is an offence when it is exercised in self defence. IPC section 96 talks about private defence. Every individual is responsible for their own acts if those act here self defence do not talk only talk about one party but either party. Self defence can be a vital strength to stop this harassment and it is very strongly recommended recently the government has recommended women to carry pepper spray while travelling and train women to show a strong resistance towards any sexual harassment. Self defence can be used in the same proportion as the force inflicted if a person is trying to kill another then the affected can kill the attacker is an act of self defence. The defence should be in the same amount as the attack.

There are many basic rights which women have in general and few of those are, Section 51 and 100 of CrPC which talks about a woman should be searched by another authorised woman with strict regard and decency. No women should be summoned by the police for witnesses to depose about the facts and circumstances of any case under section 160 of CrPC.

All people should know and understand their responsibilities towards each other.

harassment is just a voluntary act done by someone who is wilfully trying to abuse or trying to hurt another person's dignity which will not only affect the victim physically but mentally too. Now with the provided laws women of our country can step up on the sexual harassment and live the life on they’re terms. Still there are many women who are hesitant to come forward with the harassment which they are facing but once if they try and break the ice by defending themselves from such harassment then there's no stopping. Sexual harassment is choice and that choice making should be stopped and only the victim of such harassment can do it. What is happening today is not even sexual harassment it s sexual terrorism, all I wanted to convey was never be bullied into silence and never allow yourself to be a victim.

By: Sanjana Vinayagam

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