What Is Sexual Harassment?


The United State Equal Employment Opportunity Commission defined Sexual Harassment as Unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature constitutes sexual harassment when submission to or rejection of this conduct explicitly or implicitly affects an individual’s employment, unreasonably interferes with an individual’s work performance or creates an intimidating, hostile or offensive work environment.[1]

Sexual harassment is unwanted sexual conduct that is hostile, mortifying, or scaring. It tends to be composed, verbal or physical and can occur face to face or online. At the point when it occurs at work, school, it might add up to sex discrimination.  Sexual Harassment is faced by both men and women but the comparison to men’s women ratio is increasing day by day. The NCRB information features that sexual harassment is a hazard in all aspects of life: in cover homes, in the work environment, in the home, on an open vehicle. Indian organizations announced more instances of inappropriate behavior in FY19 contrasted with a year sooner.

Information from BSE 100 organizations, which are required to outfit this data, demonstrated a 14% expansion in reports of inappropriate behavior grumblings in FY19, in view of an investigation of their yearly reports by Comply Karo Services.[2] As indicated by measurements as of late discharged by the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), of states, Uttar Pradesh recorded the lewdest behavior cases that year, with 5,830. Madhya Pradesh followed with 2,985 cases, with Maharashtra putting third, revealing 2,910 cases. Of urban communities, Delhi recorded the most instances of inappropriate behavior in India in 2017, with 613, trailed by Mumbai, with 391, and Kanpur, with 162. Telangana recorded more instances of inappropriate behavior in the work environment than in some other state. Bihar was the state to record the most instances of lewd behavior on public transport.[3]

Sexual harassment is frequently overlooked in India, even in the age of the Me-Too movement which saw survivors share their stories and led to the downfall of numerous public figures. In some respects, this came the as good news.

Sexual Harassment can include:

  • touching, reaching or making any other physical contact with you without your consent
  • making remarks to you that have a sexual importance
  • asking you for sex or sexual favors
  • leering and gazing at you and showing pornography
  • displaying inconsiderate and hostile material with the goal that you or others can see it making sexual motions or intriguing body developments towards you
  • cracking sexual jokes and remarks around or to you
  • questioning you about your sexual coexistence
  • insulting you with sexual remarks
  • committing a criminal offense against you, for example, making a foul call, disgustingly uncovering themselves or explicitly attacking you.

Sexual harassment becomes sexual assault when If someone is sexually harassing you in a way that causes you to feel humiliation, pain, fear, or intimidation, then this can be considered sexual assault.

Laws regarding Sexual Harassment

  1. The Sexual Harassment at The Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013:

This act covered the definition of sexual harassment, and what are they include which I covered in the above para. Under the Act, the below this five also count as sexual harassment: [4]

  • Implied or unequivocal guarantee of special treatment in her business.
  • The implied or unequivocal danger of adverse treatment in her business
  • The implied or unequivocal danger about her present or future work status
  • Interference with her work or making a scary or hostile workplace for her (for e.g., the St. Stephen’s College lewd behavior case)
  • Humiliating treatment is liable to influence her wellbeing or security.
  1. Laws under Indian Penal Code (IPC)

Section 354 (A): A man committing any physical contact, progresses including unwanted and express sexual suggestions; or requesting or mentioning sexual favors; or showing pornography against the consent of a woman, or offering explicitly hued comments, will be liable of the offense of sexual harassment.[5]

Section 209: Obscene acts in any public place, singing revolting melodies to the inconvenience of others (Punishment: Imprisonment for a term of up to 3 months or fine, or both).[6]

Section 509: Expressing any word or making any gesture intended to insult the modesty of women.[7]

  1. The Indecent Representation of Women (Prohibition) Act (1987)

In the event that individual harass another with books, photos, works of art, films, leaflets, bundles, and so forth containing ‘disgusting portrayal of ladies’; they are liable for a base sentence of two years.

Case Law

In this case Top of Form Bottom of Form Vishaka and others v State of Rajasthan where Vishaka and other women’s groups filed Public Interest Litigation (PIL)  against the province of Rajasthan and the focal administration of India to authorize the key privileges of working women under Articles 14, 19 and 21 of the Constitution of India. The petition was filed after Bhanwari Devi, a social laborer in Rajasthan was gang-raped assaulted for stopping child marriage. Vishaka Guidelines, passed on by the Supreme Court in 1997, were expanded in the 2013 Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, which stipulated clearly what constitutes sexual harassment and established guidelines for what employers must do to protect their employees from the practice and how to respond to complaints whosesoever they arise (accessible here).


The danger of savagery and badgering in the working environment adds to a deficiency of female support in the work power in India, at significant expense to the economy and to India’s financial turn of events. Without tending to sexual harassment and viciousness and the issues which take into consideration it to multiply all through the nation, India will keep on observing its financial advancement kept down – and the safety and welfare of its girls and women compromised.

[1] United State Equal Employment Opportunity Commission

[2] The Indian Express Newspaper

[3] The Indian Express Newspaper

[4] The Sexual Harassment at the workplace Act 2013

[5] Indian Penal Code 1860

[6] Indian Penal Code 1860

[7] Indian Penal Code 1860

This Article is Authored by Sugandha Prakash, 4th Year B.B.A LL.B, Student of JIMS School of Law GGSIPU.

Also Read – Laws Relating to Sexual Harassment of Men

Law Corner

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