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Sexual harassment at the workplace is unfortunately a common problem for working women. The Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013 recognizes every woman’s right to a safe and secure workplace environment irrespective of employment/work status.


What is Sexual Harassment?

Sexual harassment includes any unwelcome physical contact, sexually determined behaviour in the form of demand or request, favour or advances; sexually coloured remarks, jokes or comments; showing pornography, any other unwelcome physical, verbal or non -verbal conduct of sexual nature.


Behaviour with women under the following circumstances also fall under the category of sexual harassment:

  • Providing benefits in employment in lieu for succumbing to sexual favours. These benefits can be provided in implicit or explicit mode.
  • In case denial of sexual favours:
  • Threat for removal from employment
  • Humiliating a women or misbehaviour
  • Creating an intimidating or offensive, fearful, hostile work environment
  • Humiliating treatment of the woman to the extent that may affect the lady employee's health or safety

Points to remember:

  • The Act covers all women working or visiting any workplace whether in the capacity of regular, temporary, ad hoc or daily wages basis is protected under the Act.
  • It also includes women working as domestic maid in a household and the entire unorganised sector.
  • The Act also applies to educational institutions.
  • The identity of the aggrieved woman (employee), accused and witnesses must be kept confidential.

Who can complain?

The aggrieved woman can complain through:


  • In case of physical incapacity
  • Her relative
  • Friend
  • Co worker
  • Officer of National Commission for Women or State Commission for Women
  • Any person who has knowledge of incident with the written consent of complainant
  • In case of mental incapacity
  • Her relative
  • Friend
  • Special educator
  • Qualified psychiatrist or psychologist
  • Guardian or authority under whose care she is receiving treatment or care
  • Any person who has knowledge of incident jointly with any person mentioned above In case woman is unable to file complain for any other reason, by any person who has knowledge of incident with her written consent
  • In case of women’s death by:
  • Any person who has knowledge of incident with the written consent of her legal heir
  • Legal Heir

Where to complain?

  • Internal Complaints Committee: The Act requires all employers to set up an internal complaints committee (ICC) at each office or branch, of an organization employing 10 or more employees, to hear and redress grievances pertaining to sexual harassment
  • Local Complaints Committee: At the district level, the Government is required to set up a Local Complaints Committee (LCC) to investigate and redress complaints of sexual harassment from the unorganized sector or from establishments where the ICC has not been constituted on account of the establishment having less than 10 employees or if the complaint is against the employer himself. The District Collector/Magistrate’s office may be contacted for details of the LCC.
  • Women facing sexual harassment in any Ministry/Department/PSU/Affiliated office etc. of Central Government, can utilise the online complaint management system SHe-Box

How to complain?

  • The affected woman can file a complaint in writing within 3 months of the incident to the Complaints Committee. In case if the complaint committee permits then a complaint can be filed after three months also.
  • Contact authorities established under the Act i.e. Nodal Officer, Local Complaints Committee members or District Officer.
  • The Act has a provision for conciliation. However such an option will be used only at the request of the aggrieved woman.
  • The inquiry must be completed by the Complaints Committee within 90 days.

For more comprehensive information please read the Handbook on Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace

and Full Text of The Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013