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Feminism In India is launching a campaign to address sexism in the workplace. We take a broader view of workplace safety than the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace Act, recognising that safety is a concern not only for women but also for all non-binary individuals and sexual minorities.
Our definition of sexism includes but is not limited to sexual harassment. We also believe that sexism is in experience of the target and not the intent of the perpetrator. Sexism includes all actions that are discriminatory towards or compromise the physical and psychological security of women, non-binary individuals and sexual minorities at work. It often intersects with casteism, ableism, racism, homophobia and other forms of discrimination and bullying.
The Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace Act defines harassment as, “unwelcome acts namely physical contact or advances; demands or requests for sexual favours; sexually coloured remarks; showing pornography and any other unwelcome physical, verbal or non-verbal conduct of a sexual nature.” The last action listed (any unwelcome conduct) is open to wider interpretation and empowers ICCs to prevent and suppress all forms of sexism in the workplace.
Sexism can take many forms and while it is not possible to create an exhaustive list of sexist behaviour some of them could include: gossip and rumour mongering, questioning an individual’s motivation, commitment and competence based on gender, making offensive, derogatory or condescending remarks about women, sexual minorities, trans people; leaving people out of formal and informal networks (the boys’ club); expecting women to take exclusive responsibility for support functions or care outside their explicit role (arranging for refreshments, ensuring office cleanliness or planning entertainments).
How can you participate?
a) Survivor Stories If you have experienced sexism, please take a moment to complete our survey, undertaken in consultation with Jyothsna Latha Belliappa. We welcome stories from across the gender spectrum.
b) Expert Advice If you are a lawyer, social worker, activist or advocate working on this subject or have served on an ICC (Internal Complaints Committee) of an organisation to ensure workplace safety, please write a short article (up to 800 words) discussing common challenges, concerns and advice regarding setting up and running ICCs. Please send in your story to firstname.lastname@example.org
c) Resources for Survivors and Organisations If you belong to an organisation or group working on safety of women and minorities at the workplace (including those offering training to ICCs) anywhere in India, please write to email@example.com and tell us of your work. We will upload your contact details on our resources page so as to create a strong support network for survivors and support organisations in creating a safe workplace.