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#MeToo: Has Existing Policy Against Workplace Harassment Failed Women?

The movement, as many argue, has spotlighted the need for a stronger policy framework at workplace protecting women from abuse

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#MeToo: Has Existing Policies Against Workplace Harassment Failed Women?

In what is referred to as second wave of India’s “Me Too” movement, numerous chilling cases of sexual harassment, that stayed under the rug for years (in some cases even decades), have come to the fore. Many women from M&E, corporate sector took to the social media to “name and shame” their perpetrators following several anonymous testimonies triggering a fresh wave of #MeToo.

The movement, as many argue, has spotlighted the need for a stronger policy framework at workplace protecting women from abuse; providing a safe and secure space where complaints against men holding top positions can easily be brought up with the Internal Complaints Committee (ICC). It also raises concern towards whether the existing “stringent” policies at workplaces have failed women.

Workplace Harassment And #MeToo

Media houses are abuzz with grave accounts of harassment by editors. Several senior women journalists’ testimonies have highlighted the unfavourable and hostile conditions they face in newsrooms or on assignments. MP and veteran journalist MJ Akbar has been accused by nine women so far, while biggies like Hindustan Times political editor Prashant Jha, Times of India’s K R Sreenivas and Gautam Adhikari have already been asked to step down. HT, following several allegations towards its employees, has made it mandatory for all employees to attend weekly workshops to get a better understanding of “important matters on consent, rejection, and entitlement.”

Tata Motors’ Corporate Communication Chief Suresh Rangarajan has reportedly been sent on “leave” as the ICC is further investigating charges levied against him on micro-blogging site Twitter.

The cases of harassment in corporate houses are, however, not new. Several other cases have shaken the Indian corporate world over the years.

What Are We Reading:

Government workplaces lag in setting up anti-sexual harassment mechanisms

According to the latest data, the number of reported instances of sexual harassment at the workplace was higher in private sector companies as compared to the state-owned ones during financial year 2018. The statistics, however, does not necessarily mean that fewer cases of harassment take place in PSUs. “This also means that the robustness of the system (in private sector) allows employees to share their concerns without fear of retribution,” argues this Live Mint article.

#MeToo movement in India shows that existing laws against sexual harassment at workplaces failed women

The survivor in TERI director RK Pachauri’s case later said that sexual harassment at workplaces is still rampant not just because women don’t know their rights, but also because the workplace, titled towards toxic masculinity and powerful male bosses, creates a “culture of silence that enables men to continue predatory behaviour with women.” Firstpost piece presents a case calling for more conducive environment at places of work.

#MeToo Impact: Companies tightening policy to make workplaces safer

In wake of the #MeToo movement, giant corporate houses are scrutinising their anti-harassment cell. Facebook, PepsiCo, Aditya Birla Group is few of the companies that immediately reworked their workplace behaviour guideline, reported The Economic Times.

The Economics of #MeToo and how to fight back against harassment

The Wire article focuses on understanding sexual harassment as an economic problem. "It is no coincidence that many of the allegations being raised are pointed at members of society with extensive economic influence and power over their victims," reads an excerpt.

Explained: When a woman is harassed at work

How does the law define sexual harassment at the workplace? The Indian Express takes a look at the guidelines for recognising sexual harassment, and the action employers are to take.