Over 29 per cent of domestic workers reported sexual harassment at work: Survey
NEW DELHI: Over 29 per cent of women domestic workers reported sexual harassment at work, with over 65.6 per cent respondents stating stalking as the most common one, a recent survey found.
A rapid survey was conducted with 291 domestic workers in Gurgaon, Faridabad and south Delhi in June this year.
Around 61.8 per cent cited sexual harassment like lewd gestures and whistling.
Sending SMSes or Whatsapp messages with sexual innuendo/content was cited by 52 per cent of the respondents.
According to the survey conducted by Martha Farrell Foundation in collaboration with PRIA, of the 11 districts in Delhi, only two have formed the Local Complaints Committees.
Noting the foundation's findings and consultative recommendation, Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia Monday said that Local Complaints Committees, as per the Sexual Harassment Act, will be set up within the next 2-3 weeks.
He also invited the civil society to help the government in developing standard operating procedures for functioning of local committees and for widespread communication on the Act.
The research found that over 29 per cent women domestic workers have been sexually harassed at work.
Of those who did experience sexual harassment, 20 per cent complained to police, but received no outcome.
Around 19 per cent ignored the incident completely, while 15 per cent spoke with only their friends about it.
Only one person reported the incident to their employer.
The study also revealed that redressal mechanisms are missing in a majority of districts in the national capital In 2016, the Delhi government had proposed setting up Local Complaints Committee (LCC) in every district of the city.
"Domestic workers are an integral part of urban society, but only a marginal percentage would have formal contracts, rights or benefits. Conventional policy tools often ignore them as they are not in the forefront of the formal workforce."
"The extremely invisible and privatised nature of domestic work also makes domestic workers very vulnerable to sexual harassment at workplace," said Nandita Bhatt, Director, Martha Farrell Foundation.
For the past two years, Martha Farrell Foundation, in collaboration with PRIA, has been working with domestic workers in Gurgaon, Faridabad and south Delhi to collectivise them and build their capacities around the issue of sexual harassment at workplace.
In an attempt to bring visibility to the issue, MFF has been gathering both qualitative and quantitative evidence to capture the extent of this problem, how domestic workers have been dealing with it, their levels of awareness about redressal mechanisms, and the readiness of these mechanisms to effectively address the issue.
Their lack of education, low awareness about the law, fear of loss of livelihood and stigma associated with issue exacerbates their vulnerability, and deters them from reporting incidents.
The issue remains "invisible" due to lack of adequate redressal mechanism, and continued indifference from policy-makers and employers to the sexual harassment of domestic workers at their work places.