“Women have legal right to a safe workplace”: Madras High Court

Justice K. Murali Shankar expressed disappointment that women continue to experience harassment at workplaces across India

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A safe workplace is a woman’s right, observed the Madras High Court as it dismissed an anticipatory bail petition by a police officer in Dindigul district. Veeragandhi had been accused of sending sexually insensitive messages through WhatsApp to a woman constable working at his station. He was charged with sexual harassment for his actions.

After receiving these inappropriate messages incessantly from the inspector, the woman had reported the matter to the Vishaka Committee of the police department in September this year. The committee promptly lodged her complaint, and registered a case against the inspector under IPC, the Information Technology Act and the Tamil Nadu Prohibition of Harassment of Women Act. WhatsApp screen shots of the messages sent by the inspector were presented to the court as evidence.

Justice K. Murali Shankar remarked that it was unfortunate that women have to still face sexual harassment at work. He observed that the woman will not be able to work as before because of this experience. Sexual harassment has a very negative impact on the workplace as the women who have been victims of harassment aren’t able to concentrate on work properly because of the fear of repeated unwanted advances. A female employee who is at a lower position in the office shouldn’t be mistreated, because it not only affects her on a personal level, but also drastically changes the environment of the place. The male employees need to accept that their women colleagues are equal to them at work and in no way to be treated as secondary.

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