PoSH Act 2013

PoSH Act 2013

PoSH Act 2013

About

  • The PoSH Act is a legislation enacted by the Government of India in 2013 to address the issue of sexual harassment faced by women in the workplace.
  • The Act aims to create a safe and conducive work environment for women and provide protection against sexual harassment.
  • The PoSH Act defines sexual harassment to include unwelcome acts such as physical contact and sexual advances, a demand or request for sexual favors, making sexually coloured remarks, showing pornography, and any other unwelcome physical, verbal, or non-verbal conduct of a sexual nature.

Background

  • The Supreme Court in a landmark judgment in the Vishakha and others v State of Rajasthan 1997 case gave ‘Vishakha guidelines’.
  • These guidelines formed the basis for the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013.
  • The SC also drew its strength from several provisions of the Constitution including Article 15 (against discrimination on grounds only of religion, race, caste, sex, and place of birth), also drawing from relevant International Conventions and norms such as the General Recommendations of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), which India ratified in 1993.

Key Provisions:

  • Prevention and Prohibition: The Act places a legal obligation on employers to prevent and prohibit sexual harassment in the workplace.
  • Internal Complaints Committee (ICC): Employers are required to constitute an ICC at each workplace with 10 or more employees to receive and address complaints of sexual harassment. The Complaints Committees have the powers of civil courts for gathering evidence.
  • Duties of Employers: Employers must undertake awareness programs, provide a safe working environment, and display information about the POSH Act at the workplace.
  • Penalties: Non-compliance with the Act’s provisions can result in penalties, including fines and cancellation of business licenses.

 SHe-Box

  • The Ministry of Women & Child Development has launched the Sexual Harassment Electronic Box (SHe-Box).
  • It is an effort to provide a single window access to every woman, irrespective of her work status, whether working in organized or unorganized, private or public sector, to facilitate the registration of complaints related to sexual harassment.
  • Any woman facing sexual harassment at the workplace can register their complaint through this portal.
  • Once a complaint is submitted to the ‘SHe-Box’, it will be directly sent to the concerned authority having jurisdiction to take action on the matter.

Provisions of the Vishaka Guidelines are as follows:

  • It is the duty of the employer, company, or other accountable persons in the workplace to prevent sexual harassment.
  • Sexual harassment includes: 
  • Physical Contact and Advances
  • Demanding sexual favors
  • Sexually colored comments
  • Displaying pornography
  • Any other unwelcome physical, verbal, or non-verbal behavior of a sexual nature.
  • These guidelines apply to all employers whether public or private sector. 
  • Employers need to establish a robust mechanism to deal with prosecuting sexual offenses.
  • It should be ensured that victims are not discriminated against because of this complaint.
  • It was decided that sexual harassment in the workplace should be reported, documented, and dispersed. 
  • Any act of harassment will be dealt with properly, including criminal prosecution and disciplinary punishment.
  • Employers must set up a complaints committee to deal with complaints of sexual harassment in a time-bound manner.
  • The head of the complaints committee should be a woman and half of its members must be women.
  • It is the duty of the employer to aware employees of the Vishakha guidelines.
  • A third party, such as an NGO, should be involved to avoid any pressure from higher management at work.
  • These guidelines provide a framework for employers to prevent and redress complaints of sexual harassment and create a safe working environment for women.
  •  The Sexual Harassment of Women at Work (Prevention, Prohibition, and Redressal) Act, 2013 replaced these guidelines.

International Convention 

  • UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW)
  • The Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), was implemented in the year 1979 by the UN General Assembly which is often described as an international bill of rights for women. 
  • It enumerates what constitutes discrimination against women and also sets up a goal for national action to end such discrimination.

Related Links:

Right To Education (RTE Act) 2009Right to Information (RTI) Act
Forest Conservation Act 1980Mission Shakti
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