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Prevent Sexual harassment at the workplace is one of the focuses now for all organizations. Is it because of the mandate or moral responsibility?

Let us try to understand this with reference to a case that has gone unnoticed and unexplored. There were many incidents in the past that were reported but not looked at from the perspective of harassment at the workplace. I would like to draw attention to one unfortunate incident that occurred years ago. A nurse a victim of sexual harassment which left her in a vegetative state for forty-two years!

Yes, you are right I am speaking about Aruna Shanbag. This case is widely remembered for seeking permission to extinguish life before natural death. Was the case really limited to the same or we missed to look beyond it? Ms. Aruna, a nurse was brutally assaulted and raped in the hospital premised by a subordinate employee. It was a case of gender discrimination, subordination & power play of male dominant society that lead to this incident. It was a case of workplace harassment but overlooked from that perspective. This is witnessed by our society through various cases of sexual harassment in the public and private sectors. If cognizance would have taken maybe it would have paved way for more stringent legislation much earlier.

This suggests that employers need to be more vigilant and not wait for the legislators to fill the gaps if any in their obligations towards the prevention of sexual harassment and be more ethic sensitive and self-policing. Employers can gather the credit for being proactive and putting principles before legislation.

Dr.Medha Shetye