It is not only the streets where women feel unsafe. Even office premises are rampant with cases where women face harassment on a regular basis. Be it a top MNC or a small company, harassment of women seems to be a common occurrence.
The recent case at a top education institute shows how indifferent the authorities concerned are towards women who complain about harassment. A woman at this institute was subjected to sexual overtures by her senior colleagues. Even after repeated verbal and written complaints, her pleas fell on deaf ears. Eventually her services were terminated.
Take the case of Savitha Dhar (name changed) who works in an investment bank. After joining the company nine months ago, Savitha realised that her boss was behaving in an undesirable manner. “He started texting me indecent messages. In the beginning I did not pay much heed as he was the one who hired me and I did not want to jeopardise my job. But with the passage of time, the messages turned frequent and more indecent,” she said. That is when Savitha approached the HR department, requesting assistance in dealing with the matter.
However, the office environment proved to be hostile as the boss started acting vengeful towards Savitha by increasing her workload and working hours. She was then forced to shift to a different department. “I was thinking of quitting but since I did not get a suitable alternative, I decided to change the department.”
In another case, Pallavi Pasricha (name changed), a software professional, decided to ignore the remarks made by her senior colleague about her dressing style lest she would face the wrath of her boss. “I am an intern in the organisation. I feel I am too junior to complain against a senior like him. The management will anyway take his side,” she said.
Though human resources departments in most companies take a strong stand in such cases, there is little they can do beyond a point. “We do issue a warning letter to the person against whom a complaint has been registered. However, if the boss decides to overload the person who complained with work, there is little we can do. There is no proof to show that he is doing it purposefully,” said a senior HR official on the condition of anonymity.
According to the official, there have been a few cases where women have taken advantage of harassment policies. In an investment bank, a woman once complained against her male colleague. It was later found out that personal relationship with her colleague was the reason for the complaint.