PoSH Act 2013 - A Fierce Watchdog With No Teeth?
Updated: May 20
Ministry of Women and Child Development (“Ministry”), by a Notification dated December 9, 2013, passed the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013 (the “Act”) which became effective from December 9, 2013. These rules are called the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Rules, 2013 (the “Rules”). - Above text taken from www.poshatwork.com to maintain accuracy.
Law & Law Enforcement
What is the LAW?
Law is a system of rules that are created and enforced through social or governmental institutions to regulate behavior. Law is a system that regulates and ensures that individuals or a community adhere to the will of the state.
By the above definition of law, it is crystal clear that law is not just a system of rules but also needs a mechanism that can enforce those rules so the collective masses not just respect the system of rules but also adhere to it in totality. When this enforcement mechanism fails to do its job, there is an opportunity that is born for those who wish to disobey the legal system (for whatever reason) and who use this very enforcement mechanism to assist (both willingly & out of helplessness) their escape route.
For a quick example - Take a look at the LMV Act that enforces wearing a helmet to be mandatory in a particular state. The legal system very clearly states that it is in the interest of the rider that one must wear the helmet and qualifies not adhering to this mandatory rule as punishable under its law. So, are there people who ignore this law? Yes, there are. So what brings in the discipline is the enforcement agency - The Traffic Police. They stop you, and they fine you. But some choose to bribe their way out making this enforcement system useless to bring in disciplined enforcement.
Similarly, we have a PoSH Act 2013. It is a great act that has put the foundation to help us tackle crime against women at the workplace. I believe it has come at a great time. A time when we have the majority of this nation as our youth population. If we create a plan to take this subject to the youth in a systematic and structured way, we could see crime against women disappear in less than 10 yrs. This plan I speak about is the very idea of building every single citizen into a law enforcement element of our society. Taking PoSH for an example:
While the law is the framework that fomrs a powerful watchdog, the enforcement tactics form the teeth. That which give the law its biting power - The Deterrence.
The enforcement agency designated by the courts is the ICC (Internal Complaints Committee). It is supposed to be a well-balanced panel of subject matter experts from the legal domain, counter crime experts & the human resource of that particular company. But what is missing is the security element. It is this element that is responsible for preparing the women workforce against workplace harassment by imparting enforcement tactics and building them as individual enforcers. This is much required only because it is today a social image of women to be soft targets for most forms of crime. Such an image not just demoralizes the very confidence of women but triggers their limiting muscle memory freezing them during a crime and making them easy victims.
PoSH Enforcement Tactics must inculde ways of how women can identify malicious intent before they become a victim to its action and the counter tactics of what they must do in case of abuse.
Unless we change this social image, nothing will change. Not PoSH. Not even a law that awards the death penalty for such crime will be able to make any difference to the crime rate. And the only way to change this social image of women is by educating them in counter crime and enforcement tactics. Imparting to them the tools that will put them one step ahead of a sexual predator or a petty criminal so they can foil and deter an assault even before it can happen. As compared to now when they run to the law as victims for justice.
I write this article to wake those up who have not understood the importance of accurate enforcement of PoSH. In the last 2 years of addressing women gathering towards Women's Day events, I've witnessed a complete lack of seriousness on the part of some big companies towards executing the PoSH Act in their organization.
Please know, that the sexual predators involved in PoSH related crime are far more dangerous than petty criminals. They are educated and have equal access to forums and content that can help them commit a crime and escape.
Unless you train your women in counter crime and enforcement tactics, they will always find themselves vulnerable. I urge all women reading this article to compel your companies to take this Act seriously and do what is required to train you in related tactics. This has to be a collective effort by all, else we will be killing PoSH with our complacency.