Law soon to protect men from sexual harassment?–DNA
With the number of women at higher positions going up, there is a genuine concern among men that they too can be victims of sexual harassment at workplace. Hence, they have sought a gender-neutral law from the government.
Accepting that men too can be victims of sexual harassment at workplace, the parliamentary standing committee on human resource development (HRD), examining the Protection of Women Against Sexual Harassment at Workplace Bill, 2010, has suggested the government to have enabling provisions in the proposed law through which circumstances of sexual harassment cases of men too can be explored and tackled.
While taking note of strong reservation and angst expressed by men organisations regarding this gender-specific bill believed to tilted towards women, the committee suggested regular surveys to be conducted to get an idea on sexual harassment towards men also.
“The committee, keeping in mind the interests of all concerned, feels that the viability of having a provision of enabling nature where circumstances of having a provision of enabling nature where circumstances of sexual harassment cases of men at workplace can be tackled, may be explored. Alternatively an employer/ establishment can be mandated to report cases/instances of male sexual harassment also in their Annual report. This may help understand the real picture,” the report said.
This observation came after the committee was miffed by the fact that the ministry of women and child development (MWCD) and National Commission for Women (NCW) who prepared the legislation did not consult stakeholders representing men’s cause was not done.
When called by the standing committee, the men’s groups said the law was ignoring the fact that men too were sexually harassed at the workplace and the proposed law was heavily biased towards women.
While giving examples about gender neutral laws in countries like Denmark, the UK, Ireland, Finland, France, Germany, Portugal, Spain, The Netherlands, men’s organisations argued that since the percentage of women at superior levels was increasing, it was incorrect to presume that only women can be victims of sexual harassment.
Meanwhile, the committee recommended bringing domestic workers and contract employees under the ambit of the proposed law since expecting such a vulnerable groups to take recourse to IPC in a sexual harassment case cannot be considered viable.
The committee believed that the privacy of a household cannot be an excuse to shield uncalled for acts against this category of women in the workforce.