Legal Aid & Advices
What is Sexual Harassment?

What is Sexual Harassment?

Sexual harassment includes such unwelcome sexually determined behaviour (whether directly or by implication) as:
a) physical contact and advances; b) a demand or request for sexual favours; c) sexually coloured remarks; d) showing pornography; e) any other unwelcome physical verbal or non-verbal conduct of sexual nature.
Where any of these acts is committed in circumstances where the victim has a reasonable apprehension that in relation to the victim's employment or work whether she is drawing salary, or honorarium or voluntary, whether in government, public or private enterprise such conduct can be humiliating and may constitute a health and safety problem.
It is discriminatory for instance when the woman has reasonable grounds to believe that her objection would disadvantage her in connection with her employment or work including recruiting or promotion or when it creates a hostile work environment.
Adverse consequences might be visited if the victim does not consent to the conduct in question or raises any objection thereto.
Thus, sexual harassment need NOT involve physical contact. Any act that creates a hostile work environment - be it by virtue of cracking lewd jokes, verbal abuse, circulating lewd rumours etc. counts as sexual harassment.[4]
The creation of a hostile work environment through unwelcome physical verbal or non-verbal conduct of sexual nature may consist not of a single act but of a pattern of behaviour comprising many such acts.
Thus, it is important that the victim report such behaviour as soon as possible and not wait for it to become worse. In some cases, the psychological stigma of reporting the conduct of a co-worker might require a great deal of courage on the part of the victim and they may report such acts after a long period of time. The guidelines suggest that the complaint mechanism should ensure time bound treatment of complaints, but they do not suggest that a report can only be made within a short period of time since the incident occurred.
Often, the police refuse to lodge FIRs for sexual harassment cases, especially where the harassment occurred sometime ago.