Harshitha Thammaiah, general counsel at Xiaomi Technology India

A zero-tolerance culture and a strong internal complaints committee are key to addressing sexual harassment, writes Harshitha Thammaiah

The wave of #MeToo movement that swept the world, hit India too in the last few months. The movement, a revelation to many on the prevalence of sexual harassment, has emboldened women to come out and talk about their personal experiences.

The recent walkouts staged by Google employees over claims of sexual harassment and gender inequality has prompted companies to reconsider policies and put in place better mechanisms to protect employees from sexual harassment.

In India, while some companies practise zero tolerance towards sexual harassment, others are yet to fully implement the legal framework under the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013 (POSH Act).

The #MeToo movement has also triggered an urgency to be POSH compliant and to do so more earnestly, although the POSH Act cannot itself address all past sexual harassment incidents. For instance, an incident that occurred more than half a year ago may not be possible under the POSH Act because of the six-month time limit in it. Another related limitation is the need to present evidence to make a cogent case against the accused.

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Harshitha Thammaiah is general counsel at Xiaomi Technology India