Most workplaces in Jammu and Kashmir do not have anti-sexual harassment committee despite the Vishakha guidelines of the Supreme Court making such an arrangement obligatory on all private companies, educational institutions, and government establishments with more than 50 women employees. “We are not aware about any such committee in our office,” said a woman who is a state government employee. She said that harassment is tolerated by them as they are not aware of the mechanism to lodge complaints. The state government has failed to do the required media publicity to make women employees aware of their privileges.
When this newspaper contacted Kashmir University, SKUAST and the local J&K Bank, where hundreds of women work, these institutions claimed they have the required committees in place.
The Labour Department of the state government claimed that many private companies now have such committees in place. However, this correspondent found that in most private companies operating in Kashmir, there were no anti-sexual harassment committees. Many women employees refrain from lodging complaints against sexual harassment as they are afraid of the social stigma attached to it. In only a handful of cases, action has been initiated against the guilty by these committees. Most cases are settled by securing an assurance to the victim that the harassment would not be repeated.