The Narendra Modi Government has introduced strict rules for checking sexual harassment in government workplaces with a new set of provisions inserted by the government into the service conduct rules. Sexual harassment will include now any implied or explicit promise of preferential treatment in job or creating a hostile work environment for a women employee.
The government has amended the Central Civil Services (Conduct) Rules, 1964 to expand the definition of sexual harassment as well as that of a 'workplace'. Specifying the circumstances which may be construed as sexual harassment, the government has said that any implied or explicit promise of preferential employment or any such threat of detrimental employment or her present employment status may amount to sexual harassment of a woman government employee. Another act that could spell trouble for male government superiors is if they met out any humiliating treatment likely to affect a woman employee's health or safety, the new provisions say. "Interference with her work or creating an intimidating or offensive or hostile work environment for her," is now listed as another event amounting to sexual harassment.
The government has specified that the above circumstances can be connected to or related to any of the five acts or behaviour termed as sexual harassment under the existing Conduct Rules. The existing acts include physical contact and advances, a demand or request for sexual favours, making sexually coloured remarks, showing pornography or any other unwelcome physical, verbal or non-verbal conduct of sexual nature. A senior government official explained that the new rules also cover scenarios where an employee, whose advances have been spurned, resorts to harassing a women employee by interfering with her work or threatening to harm her present or future job prospects.
The government has also expanded the definition of a government 'workplace' where such an harassment can take place, saying it can be any department, organization, establishment, office, branch or unit which is established, owned, controlled or wholly or substantially financed by funds provided directly or indirectly by the Central government. "Hospitals or nursing homes, any sports institute or complex, any place visited by the employee arising out of or during the course of employment including transportation provided by the employer for undertaking the journey or a dwelling place or house," have also been defined under new rules as a 'workplace' for a government employee.