This article was written by Pragha Paramita Saha a student of Lloyd Law College.


Women have suffered discrimination from the time immemorial. The equal status to women was not given. In today’s world till now the status of women is not equal to status of men. There was a time in the history of India that education of women and being Sudra was considered a sin. The social reformers worked to spread an awareness among the general public on the need for educating women. Rape, molestation, bride burning, wife beating, prostitution sexual harassment, etc. are the crimes against women which seems never ending.

The dignity of women has always been at strike either by films like ‘kamasutra’ or holding Beauty contests. It is beyond imagination that a woman will have an easy access to the courts of law. Keeping into consideration the sufferings of women Article 39(A) was incorporated in the Indian Constitution and also by providing free legal aid. It says that every citizen i.e. both men and women must be equally treated in front of eyes of law. There must be no discrimination between both the individuals.

The traditional society in India was dominated by male sex.  It is always said that male are sole person of every family and women are only mandatory thing. The violence against women is increasing day by day. In today’s world of globalization women safety is much priority than any other thing. If we wish to maintain the dignity of women, then we will have to take several steps in protecting their dignity.

In Bandhua Mukti Morcha v. Union of India[1], it was held that it is a fundamental right of everybody to live with dignity. Such right would include all those rights which ensure making a person’s life meaningful, complete and worth living. Right to life would also include right to live in peace, enjoy health free from pollution.

In our society, violence is bursting. It is present almost everywhere and nowhere is the eruption more intense than right behind the doors of our homes. Behind closed doors of homes all across our country, people are being tortured, beaten and killed. It is happening is rural area, towns, cities and in metropolitans as well. The right to be protected from Sexual Harassment and sexual assault is one of the pillars on which the very construct of gender justice stands. By calculating the regular reports of media it has become quite clear that from being a ‘mere’ social issue, Sexual Harassment at workplace has become a transfigure into a social discomfort.

What is Sexual Harassment?

Generally speaking, Sexual Harassment is a behavior with a sexual connotation that is abusive, injurious and unwelcome. It places the victim in an atmosphere of intimidation, humiliation or hostility. It may be constituted by many or a single act and the intention of the harasser has no relevance. There is a whole range of behaviour and activity, which may not fall squarely within the definition above but still it may constitute or may amount to Sexual Harassment.

Following can be few of the illustrations off such behavior and any of these may be perceived as sexual harassment:

  • A sexual comment or sexually determined behavior such as.
  • Leering at another’s body and/or sexually suggestive gesturing.
  • Displaying sexually visual material such as pin ups, cartoons, graffiti, computer programs, and catalogues of a sexual nature.
  • Telling a woman employee about the ways she dresses up.
  • Any other verbal or non-verbal conduct sexual in nature.

Sexual harassment is a form of sex discrimination that violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Very generally, “sexual harassment” describes unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, or other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature.

It not only violates one’s freedom of living and personal dignity but also takes a serious psychological toll on women by creating an intimidating, hostile and humiliating work environment. So common, indeed, is this social malady that most women sometimes fail to realize seriousness of the problem and try to treat it as ‘normal’ or dismiss it as routine and others.

Woman little or no education, do not accept the fact that Sexual Harassment is unacceptable behavior. Sexual harassment speaks more to power relationships and victimization than it does to sex itself. It is the improper use of power to extort sexual gratification and consists of misperception or misunderstanding of a person’s intentions. It reflects a power relationship, male over female that is exploitative.

Sexual Harassment can be interpreted as sex based discrimination because the expression of sexuality at work place is prejudicial to the dignity of woman. It emphasizes the sexuality of victims over their role as workers and thereby imposes less favourable working conditions upon them. The victim is targeted because of her sex. Sexual harassment at work place is not so far recognized as a legally distinct type of prohibited activity in umpteen members of countries across the world. Legal systems in such countries tend to bring such acts within the scope of ‘existing prescribed behavior’ either under criminal or civil laws.

In Vishaka v. State of Rajasthan[2], India has also been one such country where there are plethora of legal provisions to identify, recognize and define this problem, may be, under various distinct categories and without identical terminologies. There is no gain saying that each incident of sexual harassment at the place of work results in violation of the fundamental right to gender equality and the right to life and liberty-the two most precious fundamental rights, guaranteed by the Constitution of India.

Section 9 deals with the mechanism of filing a complaint of sexual harassment. Sub section (1) states that any aggrieved woman may make a complaint of sexual harassment in writing to ICC and LCC, within a period of 3 months from the date of incident and if a series of incidents is there, in such case, within a period of 3 months from the date of last incident.

Sexual Harassment of women at workplace is a form of gender based violence. It not only violates their esteem, self-respect, and dignity but also takes away their basic human as well as Constitutional rights. So if any injustice happens with any women then they must not keep quiet but they must raise voice for their own self.

[1] 1984 AIR 802, 1984 SCR (2) 67

[2] AIR 1997 SC 3011

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