49 per cent companies have set up sexual harassment cells in Delhi-NCR: Assocham

Written by PTI | New Delhi | Updated: Dec 15 2013, 22:03pm hrs
There has been a rise in corporate India putting in place institutional mechanism to deal with sexual harassment cases at work place as per Vishakha guidelines in the aftermath of the Delhi gang rape case last year, according to a study.

The study by industry body Assocham found that 49 per cent private organisations based in Delhi-NCR have established grievance redressal mechanism for dealing with sexual harassment cases, as against 16 per cent in the previous year.

Besides Delhi-NCR, 38 per cent companies in Mumbai, 42 per cent in Kolkata and 46 per cent in Bangalore have put in place a grievance redressal mechanism to deal with sexual harassment cases.

While 42 per cent respondents in Delhi-NCR are satisfied with the security arrangements, in Mumbai (35), Chennai (38), and Kolkata (41) are satisfied with the security arrangements. The survey highlights that majority of respondents in Delhi-NCR travel more than 30 km of which 36 per cent travel more than 15 km every day.

Since only 35 get cab facility, there is an urgency to develop this system in Delhi-NCR to help the employees for their safe and secure journey. Some respondents have observed that either evening or night shifts should be banned for women

or else suitable arrangements must be made immediately.

The study was conducted on 3,500 women employees from 15 broad sectors like BPO, ITeS, engineering, telecom, KPO, media, management, FMCG, infrastructure, food & beverages, advertising, manufacturing, textile, real estate and logistics

in cities like Delhi, Mumbai, Karnataka, Bangalore, Ahmedabad, Chandigarh, Dehradun and Kolkata.

"A sexual harassment complaints committee must be set up to deal with such cases. As per the Supreme Court ruling, it is necessary and expedient for employers and institutions to follow certain guidelines to ensure prevention of sexual harassment of women," Assocham Secretary General D S Rawat said.

The study found several policy related issues especially with regard to women, including safety budgets, security arrangements, redressal mechanisms, sexual harassment cell, service benefits & maternity, availability of suitable work

facilities, among others.

Vishaka Guidelines were stipulated by the Supreme Court of India, in Vishaka and others vs State of Rajasthan case in 1997, regarding sexual harassment at workplace. The court stated that these guidelines were to be implemented until legislation is passed to deal with the issue. The guidelines suggest creation of a complaint mechanism for redressing complaints. The complaints committee should be headed by a woman and half of its members should be women. To prevent the possibility of any undue pressure or influence, the committee should involve a third party, either an NGO or anybody who is familiar with sexual harassment issues.