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Crime Patrol: ‘Almost 17% of working women face sexual harassment’ (Episode 214 on 22nd Feb 2013)

The Inside Story

Survey Reveals Sexual Harassment Faced by Indian Working Women

A recent survey conducted by Oxfam India and Social and Rural Research Institute revealed that around 17% of working women in India face sexual harassment at the workplace. The opinion poll, called ‘Sexual Harassment at Workplaces in India 2011-2012’, was conducted in cities such as Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore, Chennai, Kolkata, Ahmadabad, Lucknow, and Durgapur. The survey covered both the organised and unorganised sectors and revealed that most of the cases were non-physical. Out of the 400 respondents, 66 reported facing a cumulative of 121 incidents of sexual harassment. Of the total incidents, 102 were non-physical and 19 were physical in nature. The report showed that women working as labourers, domestic helpers, and in small-scale manufacturing were more vulnerable to harassment. Although 93% of working women were aware of sexual harassment at the workplace, most of them did not report the incidents. Fear of losing their jobs, absence of any complaint mechanism at the workplace, fear of getting stigmatised, and unawareness of the redressal mechanism were some of the reasons cited for not taking action.

The survey also found that the majority of women in the unorganised sector were more susceptible to sexual harassment due to a lack of awareness of legislation. Interestingly, 26% of respondents were the sole earning members of their families, which further made them vulnerable to harassment at the workplace. Nisha Agrawal, CEO of Oxfam India, called for everyone to take a stand and say no to violence against women. The report also pointed out that only 17% of the women were aware of the Supreme Court guidelines on sexual harassment.

The findings of the survey highlight the need for more awareness and stringent action against sexual harassment at the workplace. It is crucial to provide a safe working environment for women and ensure that they are not subjected to any form of harassment. It is high time that employers and the government take the necessary measures to prevent such incidents from occurring.


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