Mind Your Language

sexual-harassmentOften times we hear of cases of sexual assault, molestation and sexual abuse at the workplace. In most if not all cases a woman has been harassed or has certainly accused someone of such behaviour.

It has become very commonplace to use profanity and curse words in today’s youth. In friendly banter at the workplace, a few swear words are hip and make you more acceptable in fact.

Women too indulge in foul language. But where should a line be drawn? Has it already become too late?

Imagine a scenario: A mixed group of colleagues have stepped out for a cup of tea in their break. There is a lot of laughing and joking happening. A woman in the group is partaking in the banter. One of the men whilst laughing and joking casually pats her on the back in jest or ruffles her hair or touches her shoulder. The touch is friendly and the woman does not object.

A few days later in a similar situation the exact same scene plays out. This time as well the touch is friendly but the pat on the back has shifted to a pull on the waist. The woman is now offended, it crossed a boundary.

Incidents like these bring to our attention that trivial matters can easily escalate to unexpected overtures. Even though Indian youth has become very western, India is still largely patriarchal in its nature. A woman cursing and using profanity, jesting around with male colleagues and the likes in most cases gives the impression that she is easy. Women need to be aware of the signals that they give to avoid such advances. Of course men need to be educated and told that not every woman is an object of desire.

Studies show that body language plays a 55% role in communication. Tonality comes in at 38%. And words account for only 7%. The Sexual Harassment of Women at the Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal), Act introduced in 2013, deals with such situations. The object of the Act inter alia is to build a robust Internal Complaints Committee (ICC), to promote a healthy work environment, be equipped to handle matters and mediate between the two parties.

Companies must make policies to address these issues before they occur.

Read More about Sexual Harassment of Women at the Workplace.

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