When the entire country was engulfed in the hugely important MeToo Movement, 25-year-old lawyer Aparajita Amar was gearing up to launch her startup - Sexual Harassment Law Compliance (SHLC). She aspires to make workplaces safer for women, and POSH (prevention of sexual harassment) compliant.
Here she speaks exclusively with Lawyersclubindia about SHLC, Prevention of Sexual Harassment at Workplace and how the MeToo movement sped up her dream of setting up an organization dedicated solely to making workplaces safe and compliant to all provisions of the POSH Act.
1) How would you introduce yourself, given that most of our readers are law students and young lawyers?
I am a lawyer, certified sexual harassment and workplace diversity advisor and the founder of SHLC(Sexual Harassment Law Compliance.
2) What were the factors which drove you to join Law School and please tell our readers how did life in law school prepare you for what you do today?
My interest in law and law school started when I opted for Political Science in school. This motivated me to intern at legal NGO’ s and so my journey with law began. Even as a law student I tried my best to do diverse internships to gain more practical knowledge. I believe that life in law school prepared me to work hard, be consistent and balance the various facets of my role as advisor to SHLC.
3) Please tell us a bit more about SHLC and your decision to establish it after working as a Researcher in HC?
SHLC is a compliance advisory body specializing in Sexual Harassment Law. At SHLC, we provide documentation, consultation and training services to help organizations comply with the law and to help create a safe and healthy work environment for both the employees and employers. We assist in protecting organizations by putting in place a robust and dynamic sexual harassment prevention and redressal mechanism as mandated by the law. Our team consists of certified advisors of sexual harassment at workplace, experienced psychologists, lawyers and chartered accountants with work experience of more than 30 years. My experience as a law researcher at the Delhi High Court prepared me to actually view situations from a neutral perspective, to read the law, the way it has to be implemented and most importantly to keep a check on biases. SHLC was founded on the fundamental understanding that the POSH law was enacted to make workplaces safe and for that we need to create a platform which assists employers in putting in place this mechanism.
4) The importance of Me Too movement in your decision-making to start SHLC?
SHLC was already operational when the Metoo movement began in India. The metoo movement acted as a catalyst in spreading the word about all the compliances that were missing in workplaces. Sexual Harassment at workplace has grown as an emerging deterrent for workplaces.
5) A lot of people feel the laws might be slightly tilted towards women when it comes to sexual harassment cases. What do you have to say about this with regard to false complaints?
The very objective of the POSH act was to make workplaces safer for women. The Legislatures enacted the POSH act with checks and balances to ensure that no individuals rights are abridged or effected. The POSH act puts in place a mechanism for filing of false cases, false witness and false statements. It also imposes a duty on the Internal Complaints Committee to inquire into false cases.
6) What motivates you and what future do you see in the field you have chosen to pursue?
I had personally heard several problems and experiences of people who were implementing the ‘Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace Act, 2013,’ in their roles as employer, HR and senior management. These problems varied from the fear and need of putting in place the POSH mechanism to putting in place an effective POSH mechanism to ensure that all male employees feel safe and become a part of the POSH mechanism. I believe that the law has grown and evolved from the Vishakha Guidelines to the POSH Act and Rules to the UGC gender neutral POSH guidelines. There is a long journey ahead in facilitating an effective implementation mechanism of POSH which we hope to undertake.
7) Final thoughts on the importance of making a workplace safe for everyone and the roles and responsibilities of all the stakeholders involved?
A safe workplace is everyone's responsibility. It is essential that all stakeholders understand their role in the process employers, senior management, HR professionals and employees. What's wrong will always be wrong no matter how hard society tries to normalize it as an accepted norm. Sexual Harassment at Workplace will never be okay.