‘Sensitisation prog for sexual harassment of women’ kicks off at NIT

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Sensitization Program for sexual harassment of women at workplace 2

SRINAGAR: The two day ‘Sensitization Program for sexual harassment of women at workplace’ began at National Institute of Technology (NIT) Srinagar on Thursday.

 The awareness program is being organised by the Internal Complaints Committee (ICC) of the Institute. Prof. Shagoofa Rasool Shah (Chairperson), Prof. MA Shah, Prof. Zamrooda Jabeen, Lieutenant (Dr.) Nitika Kundan Member secretary and Dr. Manoj Kumar are members of  the committee.

In her welcome address, Chairperson of IC, Prof. Shagoofa   extended warm welcome to resource persons for the seminar and stated that this two-day event is aimed to sensitize, educate employees on the critical issue of sexual harassment at workplace.

“By fostering awareness and understanding, we aim to empower individuals to recognize, prevent, and respond effectively to instances of sexual harassment,” she said.

Prof. Shagoofa highlighted the past customs and traditions where women were subjected to cruelty, and were deprived from basic fundamental rights.

“The implementation of laws safeguarding women’s rights has significantly reduced this issue, as more victims are now stepping forward to register their complaints against the perpetrators,” she added.

In his message, Director NIT Srinagar, Prof. A. Ravinder Nath said such programs are need of the hour and are aimed to raise awareness about sexual harassment, its impact on victims.

Registrar Prof. Atikur Rehman appreciated the ICC for organizing this event and it would play a crucial role in promoting awareness, prevention, and support regarding sexual harassment in the workplace, and more productive work environment.

Advocate Misbah Rashid (Presently member Child Welfare Committee Srinagar) and Dr. Shahnaz (Associate professor School of Law, University of Kashmir’ were the resource persons of the workshop.

Dr Yashwant Mehta, Dean P&D, Prof. Kowsar Majid, Dean R&C, Prof Ruhi Naz, HOD Civil Engineering Prof Javaid, HoD Department of Humanity, Shrivastava among other staff members attended the event.

In her key address, Advocate Misbah Rashid delivered her expert talk on ‘The Sexual Harassment of women at workplace (Prevention Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013 (POSH Act) and its aspects.

She highlighted important judgments under the POSH Act including guidelines of Vishakha vs State of Rajasthan case, Apparel Export Case vs AK Chopra, the internal complaints committee of Tata consultancy services vs Tanuja Priya Bhat, etc.

She said according to this law, both men and women can be victims of sexual harassment; however the safeguard protection under POSH Act is available only to women.

“Verbal harassment that is sexually coloured can constitute sexual harassment. Words can be just as offensive as physical acts and contact. Sexually colored jokes, comments and stories can be sexually harassing and can create a hostile work environment,” Advocate Misba said.

Regarding filing of complaints, she said complaints regarding sexual harassment needs to be filed within 3 months of the date of incident and in case of a series of incidents, within a period of 3 months from the date of the last incident.

“However, the IC or the LC, as the case may be, may extend the time limit; however, not exceeding 3 months, for reasons to be recorded in writing if it is satisfied that the circumstances were such that the victim was unable to file a complaint within the said period,” she added.

Advocate Misba further said that the POSH Act is aimed to safeguard women’s dignity at the workplace. 

Another speaker, Dr. Shahnaz said that sexual Harassment is an offshoot of male chauvinism, gender bias, gender discrimination, misogyny. It is often spoken in whispers and suffered in silence, she said.

“The citizens of India are at the most fundamental level governed and protected by the Constitution and the SC in its landmark judgment in Vishaka and others Vs. State of Rajasthan said that the issue of Sexual Harassment  at the work place is a human rights issue and  not merely a criminal issue,” Dr. Shahnaz said.

She further said that this change in perspective shifted the focus of Sexual Harassment from convicting the perpetrator to protecting the victim.

Dr. MA Shah also expressed his belief that a world where girls receive education is safer, more stable, and prosperous. He emphasized that when girls are educated, their own futures improve, which in turn benefits society as a whole.

He cited an African proverb: “If we educate a man, we educate an individual, but if we educate a woman, we educate a nation.

Dr. Shah, as a father of two daughters, emphasized the importance of education for girls in shaping their futures and impacting society positively.

In her message, Lieutenant (Dr.) Nitika Kundan said the program aims to raise awareness among employees about the various forms of sexual harassment, its impact on victims, and the importance of creating a safe and respectful work environment.

A formal vote of thanks was presented by Dr. Manoj Kumar. He expressed gratitude to all guests, faculty, staff members, and students for making the event successful. 

 On Friday, the Institute will host an ICC awareness session within the campus, led by the chairperson Prof. Shagoofa Rasool Shah for the benefit of students.

 This will be followed by a lecture and interactive session facilitated by M. A. Shah. Additionally, expert talks on the issue will be delivered by Dr. Aneeda (Centre for distance and online education University of Kashmir, Dean P&D NIT Srinagar, Dr Yashwant Mehta.