LEGAL CONTEXT

Every citizen of the country, regardless of their gender identity across the spectrum, has the right to education and employment in an environment of safety and security. The Constitution of India provides for 'Gender Equality' and the 'Right to Life and Liberty' to all persons under Articles 14, 19 and 21. It is thus the duty and mandate of every organisation to ensure that employees of all gender identities are able to enjoy their fundamental right to work with dignity and equality.

In relation to situations of sexual harassment, we would encourage you to inform yourselves by reading about the empowering legislation passed by our country in 2013 for all workplaces in India [Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013] and in 2015 for all higher educational institutions in India [UGC (Prevention, Prohibition, and Redress of Sexual Harassment of Women Workers and Students in Higher Education Institutions) Regulation, 2015]. In addition to reading these two laws that are widely available on the public domain, an accessible and simple explanatory handbook has been uploaded by the Ministry of Women and Child Development for the purposes of understanding the laws better (https://wcd.nic.in/act/handbook-sexual-harassment-women-workplace). We would like to emphasise for those who are unacquainted with these recent legislations that the 2013 and 2015 laws reflect the best standards of global legal awareness. The law of our country recognises that sexual harassment includes a whole range of offensive acts (verbal, psychological, emotional, physical), the full impact of which can be gauged only by the survivor. The law places the onus of gender-safe workplaces on the administration and not on the survivors. The definition of the ‘campus’/’workplace’ is meant to include all the channels stemming from and connected to the physical periphery of the campus (such as workplace transportation or part-time staff). The law applies to persons of all genders (and not just female and male). The law recognises the structural inequalities of power that make it difficult for the survivor to lodge the complaint in the first place and therefore provides official protection to the survivor (and also to the witnesses) during and after the process of inquiry/redressal.