Sexual Harassment: Justice for Indian Women Not in Sight

As long as the justice delivery system remains slow and our courts refuse to order crippling monetary penalties, zero-tolerance of sexual harassment at the workplace will be discussed endlessly at HR seminars but never implemented.

High on IQ but low on common sense. That, in a nutshell, would sum up Phaneesh Murthy, the IT-whiz who turns out to be a serial sexual harasser. Will he get away again, with insurers and iGate paying the bill, allowing him to make a fresh start with orchestrated publicity? Already, many women are saying that the companies that employed Phaneesh Murthy initiated quick action only because it happened overseas, the women involved were foreigners and the information technology (IT) industry is particularly conscious about their reputation.

Other than Mr Murthy’s, there are barely three cases where sexual harassment charges have been quickly settled. This only goes to show how badly the decks are stacked against Indian women. One was when Coca Cola reportedly paid over Rs1.45 crore to former Miss Universe Shushmita Sen for charges brought against Shripad Nadkarni, its India head. The company claimed it was a contractual dispute but Mr Nadkarni quit soon thereafter. This happened in 2002-03 when the first Phaneesh Murthy episode was widely debated in the media. Coke would also have been conscious that Shushmita Sen’s super-celebrity status at that time would have damaged it considerably.

Another hush-hush episode involved a Tata group employee, Lenny Menezes, who was allegedly accused of sexual harassment by an overseas employee named Neena Helms. Here again, the matter was apparently settled with a $75,000 payout. Another major case was that of David Davidar who had to leave Penguin on charges of sexual harassment. For Indian women, the ‘better’ choice will always be to move on, rather that press charges. As long as the justice delivery system remains slow and our courts refuse to order crippling monetary penalties, zero-tolerance of sexual harassment at the workplace will be discussed endlessly at HR seminars but never implemented.
 

Comments
Boodugere Nagaraj
9 years ago
Hunger for sex is much worse than hunger for food! Many middle aged men/women have uncontrollable desire for sex, but their partners do not show any interest for sex for various reasons. In India there is no outlet for such persons as prostitution is illegal. Hence they resort to other methods to quench their sexual starvation. One of the remedies to reduce rape incidents is to legalise prostitution so that willing men and women can look for each other for mutual satisfaction. Healthy prostitution is permitted in all developed countries and they do not face much of a problem !
raj ahluwalia
9 years ago
But please do take note of the Delhi High Courts' comments on May 25, as reported in Sunday Times of 26 May:

New Delhi: The Delhi High Court has slammed the misuse of rape laws, saying women were using them as a 'weapon for vengeance n vendetta' to extort money from men or force them into marriage.
Observing that many women, after consensual sex, accuse their boyfriends of rape if the relationship ends, the HC said, forcing men to get married by slapping the charge not only makes a 'mockery' of marriage but also inflates the number of rape cases.

'It defeats the very purpose of the (penal) provisions (for rape), Justice Kailash Ghambir said....
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