Sexual harassment at the workplace is by now well understood as a form of gender discrimination at work, and a violation of the basic principles of equality and dignity ensured by our Constitution. On 23 April 2013, sixteen years after the landmark Vishaka judgment of 1997, the Parliament of India enacted The Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013, which was subsequently notified by the Ministry of Women and Child Development on 9 December 2013.

In recent years, sexual harassment at the workplace has increasingly come to be recognised as a cause of concern, as it violates basic principles of gender equality and labour rights in the framework of these being inalienable human rights of all workers alike.

Though not yet covered by any specific international instrument, the International Labour Organization’s (ILO) Committee of Experts considers ‘sexual harassment’ to fall within the scope of the ILO Discrimination (Employment and Occupation) Convention, 1958 (No.111), and the Committee on the Convention on Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) has also qualified it as a form of discrimination on the basis of sex, and as a form of violence against women.

Struggle within the Struggle: Voices of women garment workers