Gender Neutrality and Sexual Harassment Laws in India: A societal issue

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ABSTRACT:

India is known for its male-dominated culture where women are considered inferior to men and due to such kind of culture, women become prey to all kinds of atrocities, harassment, abuse of men. To protect women from all kind of abuse and harassment and to elevated women equal to men, numbers laws like. Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961, Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013 etc. policies and the reform made by the state and all those laws and policies are proved in favour of women. However there is says that Gives too much protection and power to the person will going to spoil him. The same thing happens with women. Taking advantage of the law, women started harassing men either in the name of a false case of dowry, or rape etc. There is a perception that men only harass, abuse women sexually but now the situation is not the same. In the last few years, multiple cases come in the limelight where women are seen harassing sexually the men. However, no single cases were registered against the women in the absence of any law which can protect the men against such abuse and harassment.

INTRODUCTION:

In Rajasthan, a case was registered against the 11 women rape men for continually12 days. When men approached the police station for lodging the FIR against these women for committing rape. Police refused to register the FIR in the absence of law which penalized the women for such an act. If someone closely analyses section 376 of the Indian Penal Code one can find that the word Rape is the women- centric word. According to section 376 of IPC, rape is an offence which can be committed only against the women and not men. Similarly, according to section 354 of IPC, men only can outrage the modesty of women. The above-mentioned section shows that only women can be the victim of rape or sexual harassment. The Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013 (“POSH Act”) is another women-centric law which laid the provisions to protect the women

from sexual harassment in the workplace. According to the survey conducted by the Centre for Civil Society found that approximately 18% of Indian adult men surveyed, reported being coerced or forced to have sexual intercourse at workplaces. Of those, 16% claimed a female perpetrator and 2% claimed a male perpetrator. These figures indicate only one aspect of sexual harassment, i.e. demanding sexual favours, at the workplace. Other forms of sexual harassment under the POSH Act including showing pornography, making sexually coloured remarks and other unwelcome physical or verbal comments and actions against male employees can however never be tabulated.1 This because there is no specific law in India which deal with such an issue. This indicates that the need for amendment in Criminal law and need to enact the law which can protect men and third gender from sexual harassment in the workplace.

CONSTITUTIONAL PERSPECTIVE ON GENDER-NEUTRAL LAWS:

  • Part III of the Indian Constitution ensure that every citizen must get all the fundamental rights enshrined in this part irrespective of sex, gender, religion etc. Following are the provision enshrined in the part which throw the light on the need for Gender-neutral laws. They are as follow.
  • Article 14 of the Indian constitution used two expressions that is equality before the law and equal protection of the law. These expressions are the core stone of any law. Absence of the spirit of this two expression makes a law arbitrary. For instance, POSH though made to protect the women from sexual harassment however exclude the men and third gender from its ambit which is a clear negation of these expressions.
  • Article 15 of the Constitution prohibits the state to discriminate any citizen on the grounds of sex, gender, religion, cast etc.
  • Article 19 (a)(1) of the Constitution: This article gives freedom to the citizen to freely express their thought, belief etc. In India, there is a perception that men can’t be the victim of sexual abuse, assault or harassed. This kind of thinking restraint the men to raise his voice against such an act. Also due to the lack of legal framework against such acts men are not able to complain about such acts. This show that due to fear of stigma and lack of legal framework against such

A CASE FOR GENDER NEUTRAL LAW ON SEXUAL HARASSMENT AT WORKPLACE:

Men restraint themselves to raise the voice against such injustice is a clear violation of the men right under this Article.

  • Article 21 which provide that every person has a right to be heard. In India, there is no single law which can also recognize sexual harassment as an offence against men too. Due to this court also refused to entertain such case which violates the right of men to be heard.

INTERNATIONAL GENDER-NEUTRAL LAWS FROM PROTECTION AGAINST SEXUAL HARASSMENT:

The International Labour Organisation is a United Nations agency for promotion of social justice and ensure safe work environment by setting labour law standards. ILO has recently formalised “Convention on Elimination of Violence and Harassment at Workplace, 2019” at the 108th International Labour Conference on 21st June 20192. It defines gender-based violence and harassment at workplace”, as affecting all working individuals irrespective of their sex.3 It mandates that all UN member states need to formulate their labour laws based on the abovementioned mandate.4 Currently India has not ratified this convention.

STEPS TAKEN BY THE GOVERNMENT TO PROTECT MAN:

Recently, a bill has been introduced in the Lok Sabha which seeks to make all sexual offences gender- neutral. The bill proposes amendments in Criminal Laws[xIv] to ensure that the words “any man” and “any woman” in the sections relating to sexual offences in the laws are changed to read as “any person”.5 By changing the definition of the perpetrator and victim of sexual assault from “man” and “woman” to “any person”, the bill transcends from the traditional and outdated role of men and women as assaulter and victim.6 Furthermore According to UGC regulations, under the University Grants Commission (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal of Sexual Harassment of Women Employees and Students in violence and Harassment Convention, 2019, 21st June 2019,108th International Labour Organisation Conference. Article 2, Violence and Harassment Convention, 2019 & Article 9, Violence and Harassment Convention, 2019, (Indian Penal Code (IPC), Criminal Procedure Code and the Indian Evidence Act)

A CASE FOR GENDER NEUTRAL LAW ON SEXUAL HARASSMENT AT WORKPLACE :

Higher Educational Institutions) Regulations, 2015, recognizes all genders under the ambit of “aggrieved party”. The regulations do not use the term “aggrieved woman” and only refer to either “aggrieved person” or an “aggrieved party. Also The regulations mandate a primary responsibility on all Educational Institutions to “act decisively against all gender-based violence perpetrated against employees and students of all sexes.

CONCLUSION AND SUGGESTIONS:

  1. The Preamble of the Indian Constitution ensures that every person must get social, economical, political irrespective of gender, sex, caste, religion and also ensure equality of status in the society. Keeping in the mind of these great principles, the time has come where the legislature has to enact the laws which can protect all gender and sex from sexual harassment of all kinds. Also, there is a need to amend the definition of rape by replacing the word women from any person.
  2. Also there is a need to amend the POSH Act. One of the most primary actions to be taken in this regard is changing its name to “The Sexual Harassment at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act”

BIBLIOGRAPHY:

  1. UGC      Issues      Guidelines     For      Male      Students      To       File      Sexual      Harassment               Complaints. https://www.indiatimes.com/amp/news/india/ugc-issues-guidelines-for-male-students-to-file-sexual-harassment- complaints-256582.html.
  2. Gender Neutrality & Sexual Harassment Laws In India https://www.mondaq.com/india/employee-rights- labour-relations/988146/gender-neutrality-sexual-harassment-laws-in-india-an- overview#:~:text=The%20amendment%20brought%20to%20the,Section%20375%20%26%20376%20(Rape%20
  3. Why India Inc. needs to protect Men against Sexual Harassment at Workplaces in India- case for gender neutral policies https://www.ungender.in/why-india-inc-needs-to-protect-men-against-sexual-harassment-at-workplaces- in-india-case-for-gender-neutral-policies/.
  4. https://www.thehindu.com/thread/reflections/men-too-may-be-sexually-harassed/article18351375.ece
  5. https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.amicusx.com/amp/a-case-for-gender-neutral-law-on-sexual-harassment-at-workplace.
  6. https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.amicusx.com/amp/a-case-for-gender-neutral-law-on-sexual-harassment-at-workplace.

Author: Eesha Mishra

Editor: Kanishka VaishSenior Editor, LexLife India.

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