'Sexual harassment of women at workplaces unreported due to fear of social stigma'

Several factors keep most sexual harassment cases away from being reported, officials said during an awareness programme conducted by the Department of Law, Manipur University.

ByBabie Shirin

Updated on 14 Dec 2021, 8:45 pm

(Representational Image: Unsplash)

(Representational Image: Unsplash)

Sexual harassment of women at work places is being increasingly reported, particularly in metros, and more and more women are opening up about it. However, sexual harassment cases are rarely reported in Manipur mainly due to fear of social stigma and lack of confidence in the complainant mechanism, said official sources in Manipur.

“The people of Manipur are unaware about sexual harassment of women at workplaces as most of the cases are not reported due to fear of social stigma, embarrassment, retribution and lack of confidence in the complainant mechanism,” said Robita Sorokhaibam, presiding officer of Internal Complaints Committee, Manipur University, Imphal.

The above concern was pointed out at a one-day awareness programme on Sexual Harassment of Women at the Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013 held at the VC Court Hall of Manipur University, Imphal on Monday.

The programme, organised by the Department of Law, MU, discussed and highlighted various sexual harassment cases against women at workplaces, including those in the state.

“Sexual harassment is a very sensitive issue that is likely to remain unknown until and unless the victim comes out seeking justice,” Robita said.

Pointing out that it is a universal problem where thousands of women have faced it particularly in workplace, Robita said that in India, every 12 seconds, women are being harassed but many cases go unreported.

Robita also noted that in Manipur, many women are working at sand mining, stone crushing units, building construction, etc, where they often face sexual harassment but the victims do not report due to fear.

“The concept that women are weak has been created in the minds of many men who then take advantage of women. But everyone should know that women are smarter than men,” she added.

According to MU Vice-Chancellor Naorem Lokendra, historically Manipur is a “gender-sensitive” society.

Citing Nupi Lal in which the women of Manipur took on the British rulers and the role of Manipuri women in society, Lokendra said, “Women are the torchbearer of the culture of the state and are very particular about maintaining culture and tradition in society, which is why women have been given distinctive features in society. But due to modernization, such features have been transformed”.

The VC opined that when compared with boys, girls are progressing better and are playing far significant roles. “Women are playing specific roles in the family as well as in society. Many women run the family and earn their livelihood. Those stereotypical words like women are weak should not be taken in the wrong sense as it can lead men to harass women,” Lokendra added.

The awareness programme was also attended by Manipur University Registrar W Chandbadu, and Associate professor Yumnak Premananda of Department of Law, MU.

In the technical session, advocate B Supriya Devi; Assistant Professor Thajamanbi Yumkham of Department of Law, MU; Assistant Professor Khumtiya Debbarma of Department of Law, MU spoke on Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal Act, 2013 and in the technical session, Associate Professor Yumnak Premananda, Head of Department of Law, Manipur University moderated the awareness programme.

Babie Shirin

Babie Shirin

IFP Reporter, IMPHAL, Manipur

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