Sexual harassment is a broad umbrella term that includes multiple kinds of unwelcome verbal and physical sexual attention. It could consist of sexual advances, requests for sexual favours, or even verbal harassment of a sexual nature, according to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). In corporate offices and organised workplaces, provisions have been set in the form of training and workshops to educate and sensitise employees about workplace sexual harassment.
However, when the focus is shifted toward the unorganised sector, very little information or awareness is generated among unskilled labourers. They then become even more vulnerable to such forms of harassment and abuse. To bridge this gap and educate the unskilled labourers, The Prajnya Trust has come up with explanatory videos that simplify the concept of harassment and convey it to the workers.
Inability To Classify Harassment
Sexual harassment often gets brushed off due to years of culture normalising such behaviours. It is a broad idea that encompasses multitudes of behaviours that may or may not be specifically about sexual behavior. It may not even necessarily be directed at a specific person. For example, negative comments about women as a group would also be considered a form of sexual harassment.
However, the commonality of such comments and behaviours would make one endure it without much of a say. This, in turn, would enable the perpetrator to continue harassing the individual without facing any consequences. Talking about this with The Logical Indian, Richard, a project coordinator of a rural community radio, says, "Rural women are often not able to identify certain behaviours as 'harassment.'Since it has been happening to them on a daily basis, sexual harassment in the workplace has been normalised."
He goes on to say that it was only after they were explained that certain behaviours that they are subjected to are not normal and should be legally dealt with, that they began voicing their concerns and calling out their harassers.
Dignity At Workplace
Sexual harassment does not have a specific form or structure, which is also why there has been a need to define harassment legally and strengthen laws against the same. Although existing harassment laws do not usually cover teasing or offhand comments, such behaviour should not be entertained at any cost as they could affect the individual on multiple levels. Experiencing sexual harassment subjects the survivors to extreme emotional, physical, or mental health concerns.
Taking this message through a series of simplified advisory videos, the NGO Prajnya Trust educates domestic workers, street vendors, farm workers, and so on about gender-based violence and harassment. The video straightforwardly conveys that the workers "must be treated with respect, no one can use derogatory names or tell jokes or sing songs with sexual undertones."
Answering one of the biggest concerns the majority of them carry, the video states "No one can threaten to fire you if you do not agree to their offensive demands or protest against any unwelcome behaviour." With this, they assure the worker that there are legal provisions that guarantee them a safe environment at work. According to a report by the Scroll, the public service advisories were made available in Tamil, Hindi, Bengali, and Marathi languages.
Also Read: POSH Act: All You Need To Know About The Law Against Sexual Harassment In India