On Workplace Sexual Harassment

On Workplace Sexual Harassment
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An obvious contradiction has arisen in the claims , assertions and counter claims , with respect to a complaint of sexual harassment made by a female employee of the Sher e Kashmir Institute of Medical Sciences(SKIMS) against her male colleague. While the SKIMS PRO denied that a complaint had been made , but the convener of the harassment committee acknowledged both the nature of the complaint and its receipt thereof. It must be stated in clear and strong terms that , if there have been attempts at sexual harassment , character assassination and other forms of harassment against the victim, then the case must not be hushed up; it should, instead, be investigated vigorously and with due diligence , and the guilty be accorded exemplary punishment. Having said this, this particular case must bring to public attention and notice the serious nature of sexual harassment, especially in work places. The case in contention, is just one case, that has come into public glare but, indubitably, there must be umpteen cases where female victims, either because of cultural taboos. Fear of victimization and harassment, merely suffer in silence. In broad terms, sexual harassment is sexual predation, pure and simple. Besides causing obvious discomfiture to the victim(s), this odious practice taken recourse to, by the unscrupulous and the unsavory, can mar and even destroy the personhood of the victim, affecting her psyche, moral and practical sense or worth and sense of self. It also, given the nature of society, carries reputational implications. Sexual harassment then is a crime of a despicable and odious nature which must be dealt with severely. On major aspect of dealing with it is courage by both potential and real victims to report this odious crime to either the higher authorities in their work places or to the police. But, there are issues with this approach. The bosses can either pooh pooh the claims of harassment, squelch or cover these up or discourage victims from taking the matter further. Or, the predator taking recourse this form of harassment can make life difficult for the victim. There are also social taboos associated with reportage of sexual harassment. How then can this serious issue and matter be taken head on? Mostly, the onus falls on society. Individual victims of this odious crime must be encouraged to speak up and not suffer in silence. Workplaces should be sanitized by devising clear rules about sexual harassment and the perpetrators or actually predators , severely dealt with by stringent and exemplary punishments. In the meantime, in terms of the specific case in contention, the SKIMS administration must not take mere cognizance of the issue, but after proper and vigorous investigation, resolve the matter, in favor of the victim.