Sexual harassment in the age of work from home and COVID-19 seems to have shifted online. Today, an Indian news website shared the ordeal faced by a 38-year-old woman who works at a software firm in India. When her boss texted her one evening for a quick one-on-one zoom meeting, she wasn’t expecting him to turn up online in a vest and boxers.
Recounting her experience, the Kolkata resident said: “It was traumatising.”
According to the report, the married woman who has two children was just about to start preparing dinner for her family after work. Suddenly, her boss asked her to come online for a meeting. The woman quickly put on a work suit and switched on the camera for what she thought would be an ordinary, official meeting.
As the camera on the other side came on, she was shocked to see that her boss wasn’t wearing any pants. Instead, she saw “two hairy thighs and his chest peeping back at her,” says the report.
The woman said: “I have been working in this company for just under a year. I didn’t know how to bring it up but that is not the appropriate attire for a meeting.”
The woman alleged that throughout the 15-minute call, her boss remained fidgety and kept touching and rubbing himself in odd places, making the meeting extremely uncomfortable for her.
She told the news media channel that despite her company having a POSH (Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace – Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal Act, 2013) policy, she didn’t find any rules about what constituted as harassment in a virtual set-up.
This is not the first such case, recently a math teacher in India had to face sexist and lewd comments after she uploaded a class on the video-sharing platform, YouTube.
The News18 report further added that as per March data, cases of cyberbullying and online harassment against women and teenagers increased by 36 percent in the past year. According to cyber-safety expert Akancha Srivastava: “The problem is that with human interaction shifting online, sexual harassment has also taken newer shapes and forms. And companies at large are lagging to update their POSH policies in keeping with the paradigm.”