ANALYSIS OF GENDER-BASED VIOLENCE AT THE WORKPLACE: ROLE OF LAW IN INDIA
Author: Sneha, III year law student at Geeta Institute of Law, Panipat
“If all men are born free, how is it that all women are born slaves”- Mary Astel
“if women have the same opportunities and security at the workplace as men they would grow our Gross domestic production”When we talk about women, we praise them for being women who give birth to the world, we consider them a goddess having true love and affection and many times we state that "behind a successful man there is a hand of great woman" after listening all this kind of praising it seems that life of a woman is very great and proudful, But when we look out at the dark reality of women's life; it is filled with pain,stress, insecurity, the everyday struggle for better survival, inequality and daily abuse by men, sexual harassment and so on torturing things.Being a woman is great, but it is the society and patriarchal mindset of men that convert this greatness into a curse.Women face violence everywhere whether at home or the workplace. Violence is a behaviour or acts that harms or damages somebody and the damage inflicted by violence may be physical or psychological. And women are facing both kinds of violence at their workplaces. (violence at workplaces refers to incidents where workers are abused, threatened or assaulted or physically or mentally torched)According to a report by the national crime record Bureau crime against women increased by 15.3% in 2021 as compared to the year 2020 and violence at the workplace is increasing day by dayIf we want all kinds of growth(social, economic and political), it is possible only when men and women have similar opportunities and a safe environment at their workplaces, but women face many kinds of violence in the form of sexual harassment, physical and mental abuse, assault, rape and so on at their workplace.Swami Vivekananda quoted that "there is no chance for the welfare of the world unless the condition of women is improved and a bird can't fly on only one wing". Article 14,21article 15(3), article 16, article 39A,42, 51Aetc of the Indian constitution talks about women's rights, provides them equality and help in protecting them from violence in the workplace, Indian parliament enacted various laws from time to time for the protection of women from violence at the workplace. In this paper we will analyse gender-based violence in the workplace and what are the laws to protect women from such kind of violence and what could be the best solution to stop violence against women in the workplace.
“If women thrive, all society benefits and succeeding generations are given a better start in life” ---Kofi Annan
Every human being by performing any economic activity contributes to the GDP and development of a country and if men and women both will earn it will be socially, politically and economically beneficial for any country, but because of the patriarchal mindset of men; women suffer everywhere both at home and at the workplace. Violence at the workplace is the major factor in decreasing the performance of women's participation in the Economy of India, various kinds of violence at the workplace like sexual harassment, rape, abuse or assault by men etc forced women to live at home. Due to this insecure environment at the workplace highly educated women do not want to do any job.
“Violence at workplace locked many talented women behind the four walls of home”.
According to data from the world bank in 2012, only 27% of adult Indian women had a job or were actively looking for one, compared to 79% of men. Over 20 million women dropped out of the workforce between 2005 to 2012, this is equivalent to the entire population of Shri Lanka. Participation rates and rates of gender-based violence remain unacceptably high and it is hard to develop inclusively and sustainably when half of the population is not fully participating in the economy. India could boost its growth by 1.5% points to 9% per year if around 50% of women could join the workforce.
A report by Mckinsey Global Institutehas estimated that just offering equal opportunities to women in India could add 770 billion dollars to its GDP by 2025. During the pandemic, India's gender gap widened by 4.3% owing to the dipping economic opportunities for Indian women leading to a decline in their participation in the formal workforce.
India’s Female Labour Participation Rate (FLFPR) has fallen from 31.2% in 2011-2012 to 24.5% in 2018-2019. The number of women jobs declined by 10 million. The Global Gender Gap revealed that India ranks 140th of 156 countries, compared to its 98th position in 2006.
An NCRB report-based study
A study analysed data from crime in India published by the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) assessed crimes that deter women from stepping out to work and raise perceptions of lack of safety. It found that the all-India FLFPR saw an 8%-pointdecline and the rate of CaWandG (crime against women and girls) more than tripled to 57.9% between 2011-2017. The rate of Kidnapping, abduction and sexual harassment increased by more than three times and the rate of Rape and molestation is doubled. States which had the lowest (FLFPR) Bihar, Assam and Tripura also had among the highest crime rates.
This gender-based violence discourages women from participating in the workforce. The IMF (International Monetary Fund) estimates that India’s GDP would be 27% greater if women participated in economic activities in numbers equal to those of men. 
There are so many provisions to protect women from violence and provide equal rights and protection, like the Sexual harassment of women at workplace (prevention, prohibition and redressal) act 2013, punishment for Rape under section 376, section 66(1)(b) of factories acts 1948 and so on various laws made by parliament and constitutionalprovisions (article 14,21,15(3),16, 39A,42,51 etc). But these provisions did not function well and have many loopholes at some places these provisions are not implemented properly and in many places, the law fails to provide proper protection to women.
The objective of the paper
To grab the attention on this issue I choose to write on this topic. The main objective of this paper is to: -
1. Define various kinds of violence in the workplace.
2. What are various laws for the protection of women from violence in the workplace.
3. What are the faults in current lawsand the system of providing justice to aggrieved women.
4. What are solutions to prevent violence at the workplace
various kind of violence in the workplace
A wise man of great intellect and power once said, “The best measure of a nation’s progress is the way it treats its women”.
And when men and women both will work, it will lead to national progress but women in India face various kinds of violence at the workplace.
According to the Equal employment opportunity commission (EEOC) sexual harassment includes unwelcome advances requests for sexual favour and other verbal and physical harassment of a sexual nature in the workplace or learning environment. According to a report by the National crime records bureau (NCRB) there is 30% increase in sexual abuse cases at shelter homes was observed in the report. From a total of 707 incidents, the highest number of reports were from UP (288) followed by Maharashtra (161).
730 cases of sexual harassment in public transport were reported by women and 401 cases were filed as harassment in the workplace NCRB recorded more than 18,000 cases of sexual assault on women in other places.
Section 375 of the Indian penal code defines rape, the meaning of rape is sexual intercourse without consent. A total of 31,677 rape cases were registered in India during 2021 – or around 87 rape cases every day on average – reveals the latest compilation by the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB). Rajasthan recorded the highest number of rape cases in the country, while Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh followed. A total of 4,28,278 crimes against women were registered in the country. The report also shows that there was a 13.2% increase in overall crimes against women in 2021 compared to the year before.Rajasthan reported the highest number of rape cases in the country in 2021, with an increase of more than 19% in comparison to 2020. Of the total 31,677 rape cases registered across the country last year, 6,337 were reported in Rajasthan, followed by 2,947 in Madhya Pradesh and 2,845 in Uttar Pradesh. Maharashtra (2,506) was the only other state which reported more than 2,000 rape cases in 2021.Nagaland registered the least cases of rape (4) in 2021, followed by Sikkim (8). All the Northeastern states – except Assam (1835) – registered below 100 cases of rape.
Section 326A,326B of the Indian penal code talks about the acid attack, which is also a violent crime against women, egoistic male tries to destroy the beauty of women.
Data Intelligence Unit (DIU) has found that between 2014 and 2018, there have been 1,483 victims of acid attacks in the country. According to the NCRB report, the number of acidattacks against women reported from across the country stood at 174 in 2021, with West Bengal topping the chart with 34 such cases.
Other types of violence or abuse by men
Women are subjected to abuse by men because she is a women (egoistic and patriarchal mindset). This kind of abuse may also be caused by gender-based violence or gender-based abuse.
Types of abuses faced by women
Stalking /haraSexual abuse/assault
And so, on types of violence committed against women through different ways.
laws for the protection of women from violence in the workplace
· THE SEXUAL HARASSMENT OF WOMEN AT WORKPLACE(PREVENTION, PROHIBITION AND REDRESSAL) ACT, 2013: -
Objectives of the Act:
To protect against sexual harassment of women at the workplace and for the prevention and redressal of complaintsof sexual harassment and matters connected therewith orincidental thereto.
1. Sexual harassment results in violation of the fundamentalrights of a woman to equalityunder articles 14 and 15 ofthe Constitution of India and her right to life and to live
with dignity under article 21 of the Constitution and the rightto practice any profession or to carry on any occupation, trade or business which includes a right to a safe environment free from sexual harassment;
2. The protection against sexual harassment and the right towork with dignity are universally recognised human rightsby international conventions and instruments such as the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discriminationagainst Women, which has been ratified on the 25th June1993 by the Government of India;
3. To make provisions for giving effect to the said Convention for the protection of women against sexual harassment in the workplace.
Constitutional Rights which seek to protect women:
· The state shall not discriminate against any citizen of India on the ground of sex [Article 15(1)].
· The state is empowered to make any special provision for women. In other words, this provision enables the state tomake affirmative discrimination in favour of women [Article 15(3)].
· No citizen shall be discriminated against or be ineligible for any employment or office under the state on the groundof sex [Article 16(2)].
· Traffic in human beings and forced labour are prohibited [Article 23(1)].
· The state to secure for men and women equally the right to an adequate means of livelihood [Article 39(a)].
· The state is required to ensure that the health and strength of women workers are not abused and that they are notforced by economic necessity to enter avocations unsuited to their strength [Article 39(e)].
· The state shall make provisions for securing just and humane conditions of work and maternity relief [Article 42].
· It shall be the duty of every citizen of India to renounce practices derogatory to the dignity of women [Article 51-A(e)].
Legal Rights to Women
Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act (1956) is the premier legislation for the prevention of trafficking for commercialsexual exploitation. In other words, it prevents the trafficking of women and girls for prostitution as anorganised means of living.
Indecent Representation of Women (Prohibition) Act (1986) prohibits indecent representation of women throughadvertisements or in publications, writings, paintings, figures or in any other manner.
Maternity Benefit Act (1961) regulates the employment of women in certain establishments for a certain period beforeand after childbirth and provides for maternity benefits and certain other benefits.
Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act (1971) provides for the termination of certain pregnancies by registeredmedical practitioners on humanitarian and medical grounds.
The Equal Remuneration Act (1976) provides for payment of equal remuneration to both men and women workers forthe same work or work of a similar nature. It also prevents discrimination on the ground of sex, against women inrecruitment and service conditions.
Legal Services Authorities Act (1987) provides free legal services to Indian women.
Mines Act (1952) and Factories Act (1948) prohibits the employment of women between 7 P.M. to 6 A.M. in minesand factories and provides for their safety and welfare.
National Commission for WomenAct (1990) provided for the establishment of a National Commission for Women to study and monitor all mattersrelating to the constitutional and legal rights and safeguards of women.
faults in current laws and systems of providing justice to aggrieved women: -
There are various constitutional laws and legal laws for the protection of women but still, various kinds of violence are committed against women because of improper implementation oflaws at the ground level, and due to various loopholes in laws misuse of law is common.The report, jointly prepared by the Women’s Rights Initiative and the International Centre for Research on Women (ICRW), says that judges are hesitant to grant ex-prate orders even when the circumstances demand such orders and that the proceedings are seldom completed within a reasonable time frame. The factory worker, the domestic worker, the construction worker, we have not even recognized the fact that they are sexually harassed and assaulted daily," said Delhi-based lawyer Rebecca John. "But poverty leaves them no choice, they know whatever earning they make is far more important." One woman, a domestic worker, told Human Rights Watch that sexual harassment in the workplace has become so normalized, women are simply expected to accept it.after the implementation of various laws, many women have started speaking out against sexual harassment but that’s only been limited to the formal sector. It has not been of much help to the women employed in the informal sector.For example,the MeToo movement erupted in October 2017, with millions of survivors posting to social media about their own experiences of gender-based violence, many women in India—mostly from the media and entertainment business, as well as others able to access social media in English—started using the hashtag to publicize their accounts of abuse. This led to new public scrutiny of high-profile male figures and led to some resignations and legal action. However, in part, because it was led on social media, the #MeToo movement in India excluded women from the informal sector, where 95 per cent of women are employed. There the women still find it difficult to report such cases because of the stigma, fear of losing their job and lack of belief in the justice system.There the women still find it difficult to report such cases because of the stigma, fear of losing their job and lack of belief in the justice system.For protecting domestic workers India needs to ratify the International Labour Organization's Domestic Workers Convention which hasn't been done yet. The provisions of the POSH Act say that for domestic workers the Local Committees have to report the case to the police. The fear of humiliation at police stations and threats of losing work makes domestic workers reluctant to report such cases. Women are even scared to report rape cases let alone file a complaint about sexual harassment. Martha Farrell Foundation interviewed a part-time domestic workerwhere she was asked about her awareness of the POSH Act. She said in the interview that though she is aware of this Act, would never think of going and reporting an incident to the police because this law doesn't do anything to protect them. "Even if we complain, nothing happens. When we protest against an incident the police pressure us to be silent. The employers file false complaints against us when we think of complaining to the police." 
Martha Farrell Foundation in 2018 revealed that many districts in the country have either failed in establishing the committees as declared in the Statute or have failed to maintain harmony with the legal provisions in the Statute.
What are solutions to prevent violence in the workplace
We have many laws but still, women are not safe, the only reason is men harassing behaviour, and women's lack of knowledge regarding laws, and where women are aware of their rights and law, they hesitate in filing complaints and many times police officer did not perform their duty well, and many times procedure of court trials are very harassing and tiring and takes too much time in providing justice; instead of raising voice women remain silent. So, for ensuring women's protection we should adopt a system in a society where women are safe and it is possible when:
Laws are properly implemented.
Increasing awareness about laws for the protection of women.
The number of fast-track courts and judges should be increased.
separate courts for harassment cases should be established.
strict guidelines should be provided to the police officer regarding the registration and investigation of the case.
the judicial procedure should be made easy for aggrieved women.
reduce gender-based discrimination by spreading awareness regarding the equal rights of women.
Strict punishment and high composition should be imposed on offenders.
Every organisation must have a complaint redressal committee.
Employer assists the employee if she is sexually harassed
government must widen the scope of vishakacommittee guidelines.
Men and women can work together only in a safe environment with basic humanitarian rights. But women face violence in the workplace, which is a violation of their fundamental rights (provided in the Indian constitution) and it will stop the development of the nation because the participation of women in economical activity leads to an increase in the GDP of a country. Men and women are equal but in actuality, women face gender-based discrimination everywhere due to the patriarchal mindset of society. There are several laws made after a long-struggling fight of women for justice which provide protection to women in the workplace but these laws are not implemented properly, we can see the failure of the police department and judicial procedure in seeking justice for aggrieved woman. Only honest and serious following of the above-mentioned solutions can improve the situations of women and protect them from violence.
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