Harassment comes in many forms, but some of it may be down to cultural and social differences.

Most commentators welcomed the introduction of India’s Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act (POSH) in 2013, and many have lauded the statute’s framework of viewing incidents from the victim’s perspective, rather than focusing purely on the intent of the alleged sexual assault.

However, India’s vast cultural and geographical diversity means that what is deemed acceptable workplace conduct in one office or city could be seen as wholly inappropriate in another. This is one reason why exercises in awareness, sensitization and training, both within an organization and outside it, are so crucial to iron out misunderstandings that may not necessarily fall under the category of harassment.

Swarnima, a partner at Trilegal, frequently conducts training sessions across organizations and sectors, using examples relevant to each business. “Constantly asking someone out on a date is a type of harassment that I come across often,” she says, especially at companies with young employees.

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A call to arms – Lawyers and in-house counsel discuss how companies can stamp out sexual harassment and empower victims to come forward and file an official complaint in line with the POSH Act

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