Chennai: It is often an issue that is constantly pushed under the carpet in sleek glass and steel buildings. But studies that have been conducted show that Workplace Sexual Harassment is a gnawing problem in today’s corporate world. As part of their 16 Days Campaign against Gender Violence, Prajnya, a Chennai-based centre for research, networking and public education, in partnership with Avtar I-Win, conducted a 2-day workshop on Gender Sensitization and Workplace Sexual Harassment, here on Monday and Tuesday.
Facilitated by Usha BN and Indhu Subramaniam from Bangalore-based Hengasara Hakkina Sangha, the workshop threw light on various facets of gender, sexuality and harassment, while elaborating on the difference between sex and social constructs, myths on sexual harassment and boundaries of sexual expression. Role play exercises, focus group discussions, presentations and visual aids were some of the elements used to steer the workshop on the first day. “There is a huge responsibility on employers, to help minimise gender bias in the workplace,” said Indhu. One needs to understand sexuality, power and gender before orienting themselves on sexual harassment laws, she added.
The second day of the workshop called for enhanced participation from the delegates, as they were required to present solutions to case studies and brainstorm on the legal aspects of sexual harassment in work places. “Cases of sexual harassment are complex as there are caste and class variables attached to them, which makes dealing with them difficult,” said Usha. “There is a need to recognize situations where sexual harassment may potential arise,” she explained.
The vibrant and participative audience, included human resources professionals, team managers and social workers. “We must not stop discussing this issue after this workshop. We will advocate for more follow-up sessions and guidance to set up Sexual Harassment Complaints’ Committee in our own offices,” expressed a participant.