On 28th August Take Charge organized an online training on POSH and POCSO for mentors.
Prevention of Sexual Harassment at the Workplace – (POSH) was conducted by Deepam Yogi & Aparna Khandwala from Yellow Spark. Mentoring is a relationship between people and all relationships need guidelines to keep them safe. Take Charge has a gender-neutral policy not an agnostic one. The POSH act covers Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal.
Workplace: The place where you work, traveling to work, transport arranged by the organization all are included. Any office or premise, any place visited by the employee due to work (virtual meeting, traveling out of the city etc).
Employee: Any person hired for work, permanent, temporary, adhoc, regular, daily wages, either directly through agent or a contractor, a worker with or without payment, exchange of service)
Prevention: Hostile working environment - which is to say an unsafe or unwelcome work environment. Unwelcome touch on any part of the body, irrespective who is touching a person and where, demand for sexual favours, showing pornography – forwarding it etc. There are grey areas, showing hostility, any other physical behaviors, pinching, caressing, verbal or abusive language, non-verbal, whistling, stalking, blowing flying kisses, suggestive gestures etc.
Quid-pro-Quo: this for that – detrimental treatment (something bad) or preferential treatment (something good). At times the person may not be able to refuse as staying in the job would require them to oblige.
Parties Involved Aggrieved (employee): Claims to have been subjected to an act of sexual harassment
Complainant or Claimant: The person who makes the complaint is the complainant. The claimant makes the complaint as a request from the complainant. A written complaint is mandatory.
Respondent: Person against whom the complaint has been filed. Innocent until proven guilty. Principle of natural justice, given an opportunity to bring witnesses from their side. Do not call them sexual offender, abusers until proven. False accusations can also be made. We are human, so biases come into play.
Internal Committee: This is formed by the organization. The Trust or Board is the signing authority for approval of the IC.
Zero tolerance by employees to sexual harassment at the workplace. The act of sexual harassment, retaliation against a complaint, falsification of information, breach of policy. 100% confidentiality has to be maintained. Only if the aggrieved person complains can the issue be addressed.
If someone notices a person being subjected to sexual harassment, then they should ask the person to approach the IC and avoid taking the matter in their own hands. Sexual harassment is subjective. The impact may vary from person to person, powerplay is an issue.
Filing a written complaint it is mandatory to file a written complaint.
Misinterpretation of facts: On the request of the complainant, the conciliation process can take place. This has to be made only by the complainant. Some of the outcomes would include: No monetary compensation Change of teams or boss Oral or written apology.
Act happened or not, necessary evidence is sought, interviews are held with staff, witnesses, proof is obtained. The process can take up to 90 days. Result is announced and decision taken.
Finding a solution to the complaint and giving adequate justice to the aggrieved. There could be certain scenarios proved true.
Complaint proved, complaint lacks evidence and the complaint is proved false.
Proof – with evidence then action taken either against the respondent or if it is a malicious complaint then against the complainant.
While connecting with mentees, mentors can be conscious of and would include, mindful language, be culturally aware, professional approach ie. Dress, speech, posture, keep distance, do not be over friendly, grooming, understand the other person’s triggers and set ground rules etc.
Prevention of Child Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act came into effect on 14th November 2012. The session was presented by Emidio Pinho from Stop Child Abuse Now (SCAN), Goa.
Child helpline 1098 is an emergency phone service for children in need of aid and assistance across India. POCSO is the responsibility of every individual to protect a child below 18 years of age.
98% of crimes are from a known source – the perpetrator can be father, uncle, professor, teacher, doctor, conductor, school peon, watchman. Only 2% are unknown people.
If a child is below 18 years of age, then a complaint of sexual harassment has to be reported directly to the police. No NGO or Third party is to get involved.
If you get to know of a sexual harassment case it becomes your duty to report it, else action can be taken against you.
Punishment is meted out as per gravity of the offense and can even be sentenced to death. Gang rape of a child below 15 years of age, death penalty is administered. If the act is committed by someone in authority, the act is aggravated and the punishment is more severe.
Pendency of POCSO cases often goes up to 5 to 6 years or even longer.
Young adults need to be aware so that they can protect themselves. Even if relationships are consensual, sexual harassment has to be reported and action is taken in case anyone is below 18 years.
The procedures for recording statement of the child should be child friendly
Recording at the residence of the child Recording by an officer not below the rank of sub inspector Police officer not to be in uniform Child not to come in contact with the accused Child not to be detained in a police station at night
Common reasons for these situations
Disconnect within family Give space for your kids Do not expect your child to fulfill your dreams Do not get a third person involved Stop comparing your child with others Approach conflicts with a problem-solving methodology and stop blaming.
If sexual harassment is reported by a child, immediately an FIR should be lodged even if the child stays at one place and informs their mentor at another location. Later this complaint would be escalated to the respective police station and the FIR with a complaint number will be activated. The Child Protection Committee (CPC) needs to take action as the child is scared and vulnerable.
Take Charge extends a grateful thanks for conducting this training for our mentors and giving clarity to the terms and intricacies of the POSH and POCSO Act to, Deepam Yogi, Aparna Khandwala and Adv. Emidio Pinho.