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Press Note

Swayam is a Kolkata based feminist organisation working for the last 28 years and is committed to advancing women’s rights and ending inequality and violence against women and girls. Each year, Swayam observes 16 Days of International awareness against gender – based violence. This global programme which starts on 25th November (International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women) and ends on 10th December (Human Rights Day) aims to raise awareness about violence against women and girls and is observed all across the world.

This year during the 16 days, Swayam is focussing on raising consciousness against Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace. The Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013 completes 10 years in December 2023.

But after a decade, the question still prevails, “whether the Act has been able to keep its promise of providing a safe and appropriate work environment to its employees especially for the women”? Despite the availability of legal recourse under the POSH Act, many incidents of sexual harassment still goes unreported either due to a lack of awareness, inaccessibility or inefficient execution of the complaint mechanism. These issues need to be rectified through robust, efficient and effective implementation of the mechanism provided under the POSH Act. Monitoring effective implementation is critical to understanding the grey areas that may require further introspection by employers.

The purpose to have this Press Meet is to bring to light and showcase the present context of the Act and its implementation in various organized and unorganised workplaces. The presence of the various stakeholders with effective Internal Committees at their workplace will give us an opportunity to hear their experiences and challenges in implementing this Act. The media houses are our platform to escalate the discussion and share the information with others and focus on the effectiveness of this Act.

The program will start with a short theatrical representation of the situation of Sexual Harassment at Workplace and implementation of the Act POSH, followed by a discussion and press meet on 28th November, Tuesday at the Press Club at 4pm. This is to bring into notice not only the challenges and shortfalls of this law but examples of positive implementation of the Law and sharing strategies for effective implementation of the Act.

In this Press Meet, we will have with us two eminent speakers who have been working relentlessly on addressing sexual harassment of women at workplace. Soma Sengupta, the Director of Sanhita,who has been playing a crucial role around the implementation of the Act and will be sharing theexperiences that she has gained through the years of working with different IC and LC including its accessibility,their functionality. She will also shareherextensive experiences of working within the organized and unorganized sectors. Her insights will help the audience and the media houseslearn more about theimplementation of the Act and share this through their coverage.

We also have Advocate Debasish Banerjee, who is a senior advocate practicing at the Calcutta High Court and also actively raising awareness around POSH through various training and public events. .Debasish has actively supporting many survivors in court and has been part of a number of landmark judgements. His insights on how this Act is helping women to strengthen their position within workplace, their challenges and how legal knowledge can help, will be useful for the press to spread the effectiveness and implementation of this Act. He will also share some significant case judgments across India which has moulded, strengthened the POSH Act.

To moderate this session, we will have Amrita Dasgupta, who is the Director of Swayam and working on women’s rights issues for 23 years. She is also an active IC members of various institutions and facilitate discussion on POSH with various educational institutions, corporate houses and Civil Society groups.