16 Important things you need to do if you suffer from sexual harassment

by Radhika M.

Is it really sexual harassment?

First clearly identify if yours is a clear case of sexual harassment. Not every harassment to working women may be termed as sexual harassment.

A woman should ask herself some of the basic questions to identify the harassment such as:

  1. Is this behavior appropriate?
  2. Do I consent to this behavior?
  3. Is the behavior or comment violating my dignity as an individual or woman?
  4. Is the behavior creating an unsafe environment for me?

Don’t quit your job

Don’t quit your job if it is due to sexual harassment and it’ll have negative affect on your self esteem. Simply quitting will further embolden the culprit employee & his company for doing those acts again. Let us not do the simplest thing in the world you’d like to do – quitting for no mistake yours

Make notes

Do make notes in your personal notebook which is kept in a secured place. Please see that in this capitalist world every company will try it’s best to use nefarious activists to refute your charges and get away from you. More so in a corrupt country in India, where going to court is simply dead end. Don’t make notes in your email, office stationery etc. Also if you use internet to send confidential mails, they could be intercepted by your company. Detail everything in your diary at home, every day incidences with dates.

Don’t disclose it to your office personnel

Unless you’ve made a formal complaint to your employer either through email or a letter don’t discuss with your friends and especially the HR department. Moreover a letter can be burned away by the company, it is advisable to send the complaint via an email with CC to some of your friends, relatives not in your company. If giving complaint in written, make sure that you approach government women cell, an advocate or any way which can prove that you’ve informed your employer of complaint.

Remember all those are only loyal to your company who is paying them a salary. Don’t believe them if they ask you to take your complaint back or sign on any papers. Be apprehensive of any promises made by them. Don’t simply disclose all details to them. any information which could be used by your employer against you.

Your employer can’t fire you

After you’ve made sexual harassment complaint then your employer can’t fire you or can take any punitive action against you like demoting you, transferring you, reducing salary etc. It is easy to take stay order from any court in India against this. At the same time resolution from a court case could take 20 years in India. In short you are pretty much immune, just approach court. Please contact us if you need any assistance.

Keep working

In all cases after you’ve raised complaint, show your sincerity by keeping on working. Try to concentrate on the works given to you. This will help you in case you need legal resolution. If you are in government, it is even more important not to give up the current work and keeping doing good work.

Complain with government authorities

Your employer or superior may threaten you with dire action and ask you to keep shut. Immediately give a complaint in Police or any government cell in writing about this threat. No FIR is required with police complaint, they’d give you back a stamped photostat copy of complaint, which you can show in your company or to the employer.

If police refuse/delay in filing FIR, simply go to court and get issued a court order for police to register FIR. This is simple job provided you get a honest advocate. Be extremely careful in selecting the advocate who will need to get you justice quickly.

You can meet labour commissioner in your area for help - workplace issues is his/her job. Take help from women activists in your city.

Keep you family informed

This must be the first thing you should do. You’ll need their emotional help & cooperation. If you’re married, disclose it you husband frankly. Seek counseling from relevant people.

Write plenty of letters

See if this option works. If your employer want to use brute force to fire you, or do something you don’t want to do, then write letters to newspapers, media, government offices, President office, Prime minister’s office, women welfare minister etc and raise lot of noise. No company wants it’s image to be maligned in public & media.

Take advice from someone who has already gone through sexual harassment

This by far will be the best thing to do and will give to very useful & relevant advice. So seek for a person who has gone through the same phase, a women activist etc. Not seeking advice can be very risky for you! Also search Google for sexual harassment cases in India and you can find plenty of narration from those who have suffered in many forums. One such new forum is the non-profit working women forum. Another useful place to talk is sexual harassment forum.

Narrate you horror story at sexual harassment forum

Visiting such forum will, one help you to interact other volunteers or participants in situations similar to you. Secondly if you describe you “horror story” it’ll further serve as a written proof of your harassment and may help you later. Also it’ll also give other women activists and volunteers to offer you free services. There are even lawyers who may be willing to counsel you free of cost due to personal reasons.

Avoid using office internet facilities

If you are searching internet for information about sexual harassment etc, beware the company can easily snoop on you. So don’t use company internet and phone for talk about personal issues. Company can also use it against you. If still you want to access internet then use secured Google search : https://encrypted.google.com : this will make impossible for anyone to snoop on you( except for catching what you type in keyboard). Any site address beginning with https may not be snooped by anyone. There is also good site: https://www.pagewash.com through which you can access any website and your company will not be able to snoop on you or detect the urls which you visit. So use this secured Google and secured pagewash combination to access internet safely in office, if you can.

Always use Gmail in office

Gmail is most secured email service today. There is no chance of snooping of email data while you use Gmail. Make notes within Gmail only( there is a notepad). You can even store documents. Don't forget to enter your mobile number and alternate email ids since in case your account is ever hacked Gmail will ask confirmation from the hacker which he/she will not be able to answer if you've already filled in your secured questions/information in your account.

Use a good recording device

Although voice recording is not admissible in courts but it'll give you good proof to win support from all corners including women cells etc. Here is a nice review of a recording device - just buy it!. It'll provide instant vindication of you. If you've a small hidden camera/webcam recording of nefarious activities then nothing like it! It'll be the

Take anonymous legal advice

In this world of internet, you can even pay for legal consultancy from your PC and save you from the hassle of finding

Throw away emotions

Once you’ve decided to file a complaint of sexual harassment, then keep your emotions away since those will interfere with your judgment and decision making. Be strong and feel privileged to be a woman!

In fact, in India this is the most common reason why the culprits would want to sexually harass the ladies because they know that most likey the victim will try hush-up and not disclose to society for fear of stigma being attached to her 'character' if she dares to.

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Is this sexual harassment case?

One of my women staff working in my section is frequently being questioned and harassed by Sr. Executive close to the Chairman. She is expected to report for duty @9.15 hrs and leave 17:30 hrs. She is not able to report for duty at 9:30 hrs. Her boss is extracting work from her beyond 17:30 hrs and hence she has no problem as far as her boss is concerned regarding her late attendance. The problem she is facing from the Sr. Executive who is Sycophant and good book of Chairman. She is undergoing serious mental tension over his behavior. Her boss is very much scared in view the closeness of the Sycophant with Chairman.
Will this incident lead to sexual harassment at work place? Please clarify and action she need to take if it is treated as sexual harassment



It does not smell like sexual

It does not smell like sexual harassment to me as per your explanation.

About the Proposed Sexual Harassment Bill

If you feel it is useful, I have written on my blog about the Protection Against Sexual Harassment Bill 2010 at http://nainakapur.blogspot.com/2010/11/why-didnt-they-get-it-sexual-hara...

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