May 20, 2013 | 10:19 PM (BD Time)
20 May, 2013 Monday
Sexual harassment : Silent sin and its remedy
Kbd M Alamgir Hossain :
It is undeniable that Women in Bangladesh are now living in a fearful time as sexual harassment of women are on the rise. Some recent incidents such as the rape of a student of Viqarunnisa Noon School and College by a teacher in Dhaka, gang rape of a girl of a national minority community in Rajshahi and the hanging of the body naked after killing the girl, caning of a woman in village arbitration in Rangpur are growing concern. Sexual harassment is a continuing problem in the work place. It is not only restricted to offices but also open places of the offices or moving.
In legal terms, sexual harassment is any unwelcome sexual advance or conduct on the job that creates an intimidating, hostile or offensive working environment. Sexually harassing behaviors range from an offender making repeated offensive comments to showing pornography to sexual assault. according to the official statistics,one woman is molested every 26 minutes these statistics refer to reported cases.whereas if the unreported cases were to be included, it be matter of seconds-rather than minutes investigations of most cases are not reported by the victims because of various reasons such as family pressure, the manner of the police, the unreasonably long and unjust process application of law and the resulting consequences therof.
There are two types of sexual harassment at the work place. The first is one in which an employer offers a promotion or some type of similar trade in return for sexual favors. This is referred to as "quid pro-quo harassment."
The second type of harassment is one in which a "hostile-to-work environment" is created. Such an environment includes any situation in which an employer, supervisor or co-worker engages in conduct that makes a co-worker feel uncomfortable because of his or her sex. The conduct must be offensive and unwanted by the victim.
In Bangladesh, large scale women's entry into paid labour force has increased incidences of sexual harassment. They are vulnerable to physical, psychological and sexual abuse. According to a health survey on safety regulations in the garments industry, sexual harassment is likely to be most dominant source of stress for garments workers' promotion, demotion, shelter, tour - indeed, all things related to sexual harassment.
Those who may be harassed should be 'moral agents'. In a popular drama named 'Bhagfal sunno', none of the senior officers of a company harassed a beautiful actress (Mousumi) since she was tactful 'moral agent'.
I would like to focus on some practical solutions: One should speak out and make it clear that she does not approve of what is happening, tell her superviser or some one higher up about her concerns and ask for help, follow employers' procedures set out in their harassment policy and prepare and keep a detailed record.moreover, there may be mentioned some conscious and systematic ways.such as:
1. Express prohibition of sexual harassment should be notified and circulated.
2. Inclusion of prohibition of sexual harassment in the rules and regulations of government and public sector.
3. Provision should be made for appropriate work conditions for women.
Procedure pertaining to filing of complaints:
1. Employers must provide a Complaints Committee which is to be headed by a woman; of which half members should be women.
2. Complaints Committee should also include an NGO or other organization- which is familiar with sexual harassment.
3. Complaints procedure should be time bound.
4. Confidentiality of the complaints procedure has to be maintained.
5. Complainant or witnesses should not be victimized Or discriminated against- while dealing with complaints.
6. The Committee should make an annual report to the concerned Government department and also inform of the action (if any) taken so far by them.
1. Guidelines should be prominently notified to create awareness as regards the rights of the female employees.
2. The employers should assist the persons affected, in cases of sexual harassment by outsiders or third parties.
3. Sexual harassment should be discussed at worker's meetings, employer-employee meetings and at other appropriate forums.
4. Both Central and State governments are required to adopt measures including legislations to insure that private employers also observe these guidelines.
May 13, 2009 is one of the noteworthy days in the legal history of Bangladesh since the High Court Division of the Supreme Court issued a set of guidelines defining sexual delinquency to prevent any kind of physical, mental or sexual harassment of women, girls and children at their workplaces, educational institutions and other public places, including roads, across the country.So authorities concerned should not only to carry out above directions but also to implement expeditious trial of all incidents of sexual harassment and repression against women, punishment of people responsible for sexual harassment, end to government campaign against sexual harassment, implementation of policy against sexual harassment in all institutions and workplaces, keeping law enforces out of political influence to ensure security of women and change in the patriarchal attitude of the law enforces in the interest of proper trial of the cases, and impartial and accountable trial of such incidents.
Art and Culture
Focus on Chittagong
Fashion & Beauty
Food and Drink
Law and Justice
New Nation Supplement
Editor: Mostafa Kamal Majumder, Adviser Editor: A.M. Mufazzal, Printed and Published by Mainul Hosein from the New Nation Printing Press, 1.R.K Mission Road, Dhaka-1203 Phones: New Nation PABX: 7122654, 7114514, 7122655, Fax: 880-2-7122650, 9512775 email: email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org for advertisement, email@example.com