The #Metoo movement in India successfully brought out several crippling harassment issues that women face in the workplace, which otherwise went unaddressed for ages now. To further the cause, lawyer and activist Abha Singh delivered a riveting speech on the impact of the #MeToo Movement on the corporate culture in India in Columbia, New York.
Abha was invited by the School of International and Public Affairs, Columbia University as a speaker at the India Dialogues, which is a day-long conference of academicians, policy practitioners, future policy-leaders, media persons and the Indian Diaspora in America.
Singh quoted statistics to highlight the rampant sexual harassment in India, which goes by unnoticed. She revealed that sexual harassment in India rose by 45% in the last three years, and a shocking 75% of sexual harassment victims face retaliation when they speak up.
Abha further pointed out that many companies have no Internal Grievance Committees to address the crisis, thus brashly breaking the Prevention of Sexual Harassment Act, 2013 (POSH Act).
Talking about the provisions of the POSH Act, the advocate lamented the fact that the penalty for violating the POSH Act is a mere Fifty Thousand Rupees (50,000 INR), which is a minuscule sum for big corporate business.
According to Abha, the rise of the #MeToo movement in India is because POSH Act failed to curtail sexual harassment and thereby lacked to provide any stringent penalty therein.
Concluding her speech, Abha Singh stressed the need to amend Section 26 of the POSH Act and those violating the Act must be threatened with jail term and heavy fines should be levied, Abha urged, adding that severity of the punishment can be increased by declaring the accused as ‘Deemed Guilty’, and leave them to prove their innocence during the trial.
‘Only then would corporate India be able to curb sexual harassment which has brought tremendous infamy to the country and has impeded the rise of women up the ranks,’ Singh added in her final remarks.