10 Yrs Of POSH Act 2013, But Your Domestic Help May Still Have No Idea!

The POSH Act of 2013 lays down rules for tackling sexual harassment at work, but how many women in the unorganised sector, like your domestic help, are aware of it?

The much awaited Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013 came into effect on 9th December 2013, better known as The POSH Act.

By now most of us know that this Act came into existence with the objective of creating a safe workplace which is free from any form of Sexual Harassment for women. With the rising movement and awareness happening around, more women from workplaces are speaking up and reporting about such instances which they had to face. Both men and women in the organization are now aware that the Government of India has set up a mechanism which is mandatory to be followed by every organization. But these awareness campaigns and sessions are seen to be confined within the organized sector only.

What about women working in the unorganised sector?

The scope of POSH Act extends towards the organized as well as the unorganized sector.

Those working with the organized sector i.e. a formal company or office setup with 10 or more number of employees are being informed and made aware about the provisions of the Act since it has become legally mandatory for the organizations. Sadly the same is not the case with women or anyone working in un-organized sector.

Sexual Harassment is not limited within offices or a setup with large number of employees. There are a large number of women working as domestic help, food stall vendors, cleaners etc. who do not work in a formal set-up. These are women working in societies, local stores and other small set-ups who are not even aware that there is a separate provision and mechanism in case they face any kind of Sexual Harassment at their place of work.

A lack of awareness about the Local Complaints Committee at taluka level

None of them are aware that there is a dedicated Local Complaints Committee (LCC) and a District officer who register complaints as well as carries out the enquiry process with regard to Sexual Harassment at workplace.

One of the major advantages of having a Local Complaints Committee in every taluka for such cases is that there won’t be any delay in enquiry and relief process. Unaware about such provisions these women either do not speak up about it to anyone or approach the local police who might already be loaded with other critical cases and might find it hard to conduct the enquiry as fast as the LCC.

Who is to be responsible for creating this awareness?

Even though the Act states that it covers women working in un-organized sector too, the awareness is yet to reach them. How are they supposed to make use of the provisions made for them when they don’t even know about it?

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Unlike the organized sector the societies or even the local authorities are not subject to being penalized for not conducting awareness training among those working for them or among the community.

One of many loopholes of the Act is that nobody is held responsible for creating awareness among the unorganized sector. In such an existing scenario, how is this Act actually covering women working across sectors in the country as it claims? While it is appreciated that the government has taken bigger steps and turned Vishakha Guidelines from 1997 into the POSH Act in 2013 there also remains a concern that the un-organized sector workers are still unaware about it.

Image source: a still from the film Sir

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About the Author

Amruta Nair

A person who loves to share and teach through own experiences. Loves tasty food and peace. Never loose a chance to laugh and smile. Professionally, a freelance skill development trainer, a certified POSH Enabler and read more...

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