Nearly half of the working women in Patna feel safe though only one-fourth of them have a committee at their workplace to report sexual harassment.
These figures were revealed at a state-level consultation organised by non-government organisations Mahila Jagran Kendra and Nirnaya at Gandhi Sangrahalaya on Sunday.
A survey report, “Sexual harassment of women at workplaces in Patna”, was also released.
The survey was conducted at 50 government and private organisations as well as development and unorganised sectors. Both male and female professionals were interviewed for the survey. Seventy-eight per cent of the respondents said sexual harassment has increased lately.
According to the report, 48 per cent women said their employers take step to ensure their safety. But only 25 per cent of the respondents said their organisation or institution had formed a sexual harassment complaint committee or cell.
Around 20 per cent of the women interviewed for the survey were unaware of Vishakha Guidelines.
Vishakha Guidelines Against Sexual Harassment at Work, 1997, are regulations laid down by Supreme Court to prevent exploitation of working women. Besides this, Justice Verma Committee Report and the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redress) Act, 2013, are legislations to safeguard women.
The chief guest at the event, activist Indira Jena, said: “Power and money are associated with sexual harassment.”
Supreme Court lawyer Abha Singhal Joshi, who was also present at the event, said: “Even if women are harassed they have no idea where to lodge a complaint. They are often unaware of the laws protecting their rights and they don’t know how to respond to harassment. A woman should be treated on a par with her male colleagues. She should get the same salary and benefits that men in her position get.”
Neelu, the chairperson of Mahila Jagran Kendra, said: “Sexual harassment at work places has become common in the last few years as more and more women are joining the workforce.”