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POSH Act: History, Content, and Evaluation



  Dec 21, 2023

POSH Act: History, Content, and Evaluation



History and Background of the POSH Act:

1. Origins: The POSH Act’s roots lie in the Vishakha Guidelines of 1997, formulated after the Bhanwari Devi gang rape case in Rajasthan. These guidelines laid the foundation for addressing sexual harassment at workplaces.

2. Legislation Enactment: After nearly 16 years, in 2013, the POSH Act was enacted, transforming the guidelines into a legal framework.

Content of the POSH Act:

1. Objective: The Act aims to prevent and protect women from sexual harassment at workplaces and ensure effective redressal.

2. Key Provisions:

Internal Complaints Committee (ICC): Mandatory establishment of an ICC in every organization with 10 or more employees.
Awareness and Training: Organizations are required to conduct regular awareness and training programs.
Complaint Mechanism: Provision for women to file a complaint of sexual harassment.
Confidentiality: Ensuring the confidentiality of the complainant and the proceedings.
Penalties: For non-compliance, organizations face monetary fines.

Strengths and Shortcomings of the POSH Act:

1. Strengths:
Legal Framework: Provides a legal structure for addressing sexual harassment at work.
Awareness and Prevention: Emphasizes awareness and preventive measures.

2. Shortcomings:
Implementation Issues: Inconsistent implementation across organizations, often leading to ineffectiveness.
Awareness Gap: Despite its provisions, there remains a significant gap in awareness about the Act among women.
Inadequate Reporting and Redressal: Many cases go unreported due to fear or lack of faith in the system. The redressal mechanism is often criticized for being slow and biased.
Confidentiality vs. Transparency: While confidentiality is intended to protect complainants, it sometimes leads to a lack of transparency and accountability in the process.
Limited Scope: Critics argue that the Act needs to broaden its scope to include more informal sectors and nuanced forms of harassment.
In summary, while the POSH Act is a significant step towards addressing sexual harassment at workplaces, its effectiveness is hindered by challenges in implementation, awareness, and the need for a more comprehensive and transparent approach.


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