Monday, September 6, 2010

Sexual harassment covers all unwanted gestures, needs new definition

Sexual harassment covers all unwanted gestures, needs new definition

Monday, September 06, 2010

United News of India
New Delhi, Sept 6:

Making an effort to refresh the definition of sexual harassment, a panel discussion on the issue today focused on how the term 'harassment' covered a wide range of unwanted gestures.

Additional Solicitor General Indira Jaisingh noted, ''The fear of harassment is a major deterrent for women desirous of entering the workforce.'' She added that a casual gesture by a male colleague at work might become a source of fear for a woman.

The discussion was organised by entertainment channel Star Plus on the launch of their new venture 'Kaali' which deals with the fight of a middle-class girl against sexual harassment.

Besides, journalist and author Madhu Trehan opined that mere formulation of laws was not enough.

''We need to teach children from a very young age, the time when they are in school, that behaving properly with a woman is a part of being civilised,'' she said.

She emphasized that upbringing had a major role to play and preference for a son over the girl child in the country was only fuelling this attitude and commodifying women.

However, former union minister for women and child development Renuka Chowdhury said sexual harassment was everywhere and it was not only the fairer sex which was the victim.''Even young boys can be subjected to it these days,'' she said.

Also, National Commission for Women (NCW) joint secretary Sundari Subramaniam Pujari stressed that harassment cases taken up by agencies like the NCW and National Human Rights Commission were making a difference in the attitude of the district administrations and argued that awareness campaigns through schools and the mass media were key.

Centre for Social Research's Ranjana Kumari said, ''There is a sexual boundary drawn by a woman. It is the moment you cross that line that harassment happens.''

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