If Kashmiri women are storming in to every male bastion, they are also ending up paying a huge price for their ambition as significant number of sexual harassment incidents have come to fore especially at the hands of senior officers in government and private sector.
In 46.28% cases reported senior officers carried out harassment against their subordinate female employees, while in 42.28% cases, colleagues of equal status were involved in this bestial acts. These findings were revealed by noted sociologist Prof Bashir Ahmad Dabla who further asserted that almost 38.18 percent females face physical assaults, 53% mental harassment and 10.85 reported that lewd remarks were yelled at them at workplace.
Sexual harassment of working women at workplace is a new trend in Kashmir but most endemic. Nevertheless; experts believe that such incidents are not brought in to limelight. Dabla in his research has observed that only 17.14% females file complaints against offenders while majority of victims 82.85% do not report such incidents. Moreover, 50% cases reported that they were not satisfied with the action taken against the perpetrators.
"Such incidents are numerous in Kashmir yet victims never file any complaint against the perpetrators owing to cultural sensitivities, "said Shafat Ahmad, Advocate J K High Court. However, he added that Supreme Court has recognized sexual harassment as human rights violation and gender based discrimination that affects women.
The court has also provided guidelines for employees to redress and prevent sexual harassment at workplace. Since this is new trend in Kashmir, people are not well acquainted with the intricacies of law. However, he was quick to add that in different Indian states where such incidents have shown relentless growth the legislation has not brought much relief.
"When you actually deal with the cases and the inquiry process, nothing happens on ground against such incidents at workplace," added Shafat
Dabla says the issue needs redress and can assume serious implication for women at large if they do not report such incidents.
Many working women in Kashmir allege that the action taken against the culprits sounds nothing more than eyewash to hide the stink which once out can shove some in to the abyss of ignominy.
"My boss used to coerce me to enter in to illegitimate relation .When I protested his behavior and reported the matter to higher authorities, they did not respond. I finally left the job," says Sabha Hameed (name changed) who worked in a private organization as a secretary.
These victims further allege that if they dare to raise voice against the perpetrators they are threatened and the promotions are delayed. Moreover, the matter is often hushed up and culprits go scoot free.
"In my eight years of service I have been working with assiduity and sincerity. Nevertheless, my boss deliberately delayed my chances of promotion. It is because once I reported his misbehavior to higher echelons in the department who did not consider my case seriously. It seemed a time buying tactic to shield those who stand in danger of getting exposed. I cannot afford to leave the job owing to family problems," says Humaira Rashid, a clerk in Government department.