There are several factors which influenced the enactment of the POSH Act, 2013. Generally, women are facing discrimination, degradation, and sexual harassment at the workplace on the basis of their gender qualification. So, this leads to a revolution against these bias factors, and government and law-making bodies provide many guidelines and protection for women rights at the workplace.
POSH stands for 'Prevention Of Sexual Harassment.' This Act comes into force for the protection of women rights at their workplace because women faced difficulty in getting equal job, salary, opportunity, promotion, recruitment and many more experience. They are lacking behind due to discrimination and sexual harassment at their workplace.
As we read about our history, how society was classified, and how the position of women and men were laid, we find that we had a male-dominated society, and females were considered to hold and serve the household chores. They were not allowed to involve themselves outside work as males did. So, this feeling might be involved due to our history.
THE POSH ACT 2013
On 26th June 1975, Indira Gandhi, the then-PM, addressed the United Nations Women’s Conference in Mexico and said that women’s lower status and fewer opportunities hindered the development of the human race. Here, the need arises for the existence of women race; and this Act came into force.
Sexual harassment means when an individual is sexually degraded or humiliated by another person. In other words, any unwanted sexual behaviour that makes someone feel upset, scared, degraded, offended or humiliated is known as sexual harassment. In the case of Vishakha v. the State of Rajasthan, the term sexual harassment has a more clear definition “sexual harassment includes such unwelcome sexually determined behaviour” and there is a proper classification given.
Quid pro quo harassment is sexual harassment that an individual conduct in exchange for an employment opportunity. Promotion offers, salary increases and transfers are all examples of this kind of harassment.
JUSTICE JS VERMA COMMITTEE was set up after the Nirbhaya incident of December 2012 and submitted its recommendations on strengthening the laws to curb crimes against women. Recently, on TV, breaking news is channelizing sexual harassment at the wrestling fields. They are suffering from these evil practices and they are fighting for their rights.
FACTORS INFLUENCING POSH ACT
1. Undermines a person’s sense of dignity.
2. Undermines a person’s sense of competence at work.
3. Compromises learning potential (absenteeism, distraction, loss of promotion)
4. Creates a toxic environment.
5. Hostile work environment conduct that creates an intimidating, hostile or humiliating working environment for the recipient.
These are the most prominent factors which are responsible for sexual harassment which leads to revolution and women demanding equal protection of rights or supporting feminism, and the Supreme Court made a clear pronouncement in the Vishakha case that sexual harassment of a woman in the workplace is a crime and punishable under the relevant law.
Currently, more than one in five people (almost 23%) in employment have experienced violation and harassment at the workplace, whether physical, psychological or sexual according to the Geneva report.
Various organizations have been set up for the protection of women rights or those who are underprivileged.
International Labour Organization came into force which not only makes a free environment for work anyone at an equal level but is also vigilant in avoiding violence and preventing sexual harassment, including gender-biased ones. It applies to any firm, public, private or government organization. They provide regulations and guidelines to not suffer any human race this discrimination.
Developed and developing countries have their own laws and organization to fight against these types of disparities. India has also various laws to overcome these diseases.
RIGHTS UNDER THE CONSTITUTION
1. Article 14, provides the equality of every citizen under the law. Women are therefore entitled to a safe workspace. And they cannot be harassed by anyone for getting a promotion or any kind of advantage. The Article guarantees the equal protection of rights as well as protection from discrimination.
2. Article 19(g), guarantees to protect her dignity and physical and mental well-being.
3. Articles 15 and 21, also address liberty and equality among citizens. Nobody is downtrodden to collect these rights.
But, women have the right to claim it if someone infringes on their rights. But due to unawareness and fear they sleep over their own rights and the culprit runs away. So, women have not to fear and stand against crime.
IMPORTANT PROVISIONS OF THE POSH ACT
There are various committee has been organized at the local level, district level and several places. These are the committee established under the POSH Act. And the government has to enact laws and guidelines according to the time.
a. Internal complaint committee has been dedicated to resolving the case related to sexual harassment under Section 4 of the POSH Act. These are the committee responsible for dealing the case which is concerned with harassment.
b. The committee consists of one presiding officer who must be female, and other two members for working purposes. They must have knowledge of the legal field and social work experience.
c. One external member who may belong to any NGOs but have work experience in the social field of at least five years, is an important requirement under Section 4 of the posh act.
d. Any inquiry if conducted then the presence of three members is necessary along with presiding officers.
e. Local committee: Under Section 5 of the POSH Act, the district government are responsible to establish the local committee for providing a free and fair environment at the workplace. Committee works under the guidelines of the POSH Act.
IMPACT OF THE POSH ACT
After enacting the Act, the harassment rate decreases and the workplace becomes more smooth and safe for women. It will reduce poor incidents and helps to improve productivity. It will also contribute to boosting morale and quality work culture. It will make to maintain legal obligations. One of the main reasons and objectives behind this Act is to make the workplace safe for women and promote a healthy environment for any gender.
LEGAL PROVISIONS WHICH INFLUENCE THE POSH ACT
Before the enactment of the POSH Act, we have several dedicated laws regarding women protection and various provision to criminalize sexual harassment.
INDIAN PENAL CODE (IPC), 1860- Section 354A added to the code which deals with sexual harassment which is an offence and punishable under the law. Also, Section 504, provides that whosoever ruins the modesty of women by use of words, gesture, or act is punished under the law.
And much more act talk about the term ‘sexual harassment’ such as Industrial Employment Act, 1946 and Indecent Representation of Women Act, 1987.
These provisions make the laws crystal clear and criminalize the practice of sexual harassment.
CRITICISM OF FACTORS WHICH INFLUENCE POSH ACT
1. Gender inequality- Firstly, it is discriminatory in nature because it only talks about women; there is no reference about men harassment. There is no such word existing under the Indian laws and that makes this act discriminatory in nature. Men can also be harassed by anyone but our law is silent about them.
2. False complaints- Another criticism of this act is that men feel anxious reaction towards the POSH Act, they feel fear to express their opinion regarding official benefits. Some women take advantage of the act and execute false allegations if she does not get favourable opportunity.
3. Anonymity- We are quite aware of our legal system and how it works and how much time it will take to process. This act also has the feature to follow the law step by step. It is not anonymous-filing to the Court. First of all, the victim must file the complaints and further Indian Ministry for Women look after that case. It is highly necessary to introduce this system to get justice in the right way and fast manner. But our system still does not favor this method.
4. External member- Still it is a debate topic about who will become the external member of IC. It creates lots of confusion about the member.
5. Monetary penalty- If the convict has been proven then the monetary compensation determining vague and unclear. It will also contribute to the criticism of this act.
These are the rising factor which criticizes POSH Act and it needs to maintain and regulate for good governance.
POSH ACT, 2013 came into force for the protection from sexual harassment at the workplace, reduces inequality, the biased ruling of one gender, non-payment of equal wages among gender, restrictions of promotion and recruitment which she deserves, and many more thing happened to her during work hours. So, the committees are vigilant towards crime related to women facing during office hours.
Some are the lacking feature which leads towards the downfall of the Act like gender inequality, it seems like it is only one gender favouring law, one gender does not get any concern. Therefore, it needs to take some beneficial measures to make the act run in a smooth manner.