Aditi Nigam

New Delhi, Nov 28:

While Parliament is set to consider a Bill on sexual harassment at the workplace in this session, a new study shows “high incidence’ of such cases, with 17 per cent working women reporting facing such acts.

The study by Oxfam India and Social and Rural Research Institute, a wing of IMRB International, was done in Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore, Chennai, Kolkata, Ahmedabad, Lucknow and Durgapur, among working women from the organised and unorganised sectors.

Among sectors, the three that emerged as ‘unsafe’ for women were labourers (29 per cent), domestic helps (23 per cent) and small-scale units (16 per cent).

However, most of the women respondents reported to have faced incidents that were non-physical. A total of 102 out of 121 incidents were reported to be non-physical, whereas the remaining 19 incidents were physical in nature, says the study.

While a majority of respondents were aware of such acts, they were reluctant to take any formal action due to ‘fear of losing the job’, ‘absence of any complaints mechanism at the workplace’, ‘fear of getting stigmatised’ and ‘not aware of redressal mechanism’.

Violence against women is a human rights violation, whether it is domestic or sexual harassment at the workplace,” said Nisha Agrawal, CEO, Oxfam India.

Majority of respondents (both general population and working women) perceived women working in the unorganised sector to be more susceptible to sexual harassment. Over 80 per cent said there was need for a separate law for dealing with sexual harassment at workplace.

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