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Sexual Harassment in hotel industry is more common that it seems. It is disgraceful and embarrassing to learn the plight of the women who work in the hospitality industry. So what can one do about it? Is change possible? What can you do if you come across such an incident? In this article Aditya Shrivastava, Manager, Content Marketing at iPleaders has some interesting insights to offer.

When you clicked on the link to this article what was the first thought on your mind? Just another saucy article about the prevalence of “open-sex” culture in the hotel industry? A lot of us think that men working in the hotels – right from the managers to the chefs or women, for that matter, are most likely open to the idea of having consensual sex. That’s the most common perception and attitude, “Indians” have for women who work in the hotel industry.

I would like to request you to take a moment and google “Sexual Harassment at Hotels.” You will be embarrassed to see the results. In a report by The Guardian, “9 out of 10 workers said they have experienced sexual abuse..Preliminary research gathered from workers in the hospitality industry found that 89% said they had experienced one or more incidents of sexual harassment in their working life.

It is perhaps due to such concentration of regular sexual harassment of female workers in bars, clubs, hotels, resorts, and restaurants that it is now considered normal in the hospitality ecosystem. You can find innumerable testimonies of staff accusing their employers of failing to protect them from regular sexual abuse.

Adding to this saga are not only small or inexpensive hotels. Even prestigious hotels like the Taj have time and again been accused of not being able to protect their employees. It was in 2015 as per a report by The Economic Times that a female executive alleged that the Taj Group’s then CEO Rakesh Sarna of sexual abuse. However, as per the same report, Sarna was given a clean chit by an independent panel constituted by the company. Eventually, Sarna quit the company predominantly due to ‘personal reasons’ as per BSE filings in another report by The Economic Times.

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In 2017, a video of a woman being abused by the Pride Plaza’s security manager, with a third person (woman’s immediate supervisor) present in the room and not reporting the matter. The aftermath of it? The woman was sacked from the job for reporting the matter. In 2017 June, one of the Taj Group’s subsidiaries, Ginger Hotels was in news for an alleged case of sexual harassment by Rahul Pandit, CEO of Roots Corporation.

Here are some facts that can blow your mind :

  • In a survey conducted by Hindustan Times, 69.8% victims did not complain about sexual harassment at workplace.
  • A 2015 FICCI report found that there is an increase in the number of sexual harassment complaints at the workplaces. The numbers almost double every year.
  • National Crime Records Bureau’s data reveals that out of 8,685 cases filed under Section 509 of the Indian Penal Code (outraging the modesty of women), 119 occurred at the workplace and 714 cases were reported at places related to work.
  • As per the same report, 557 women were raped by their employers or co-workers.

Why is the situation so terrible?

As per this report by, the number of women working in the hotel industry is fairly less. The article recites a story of a young girl named Kiran. She was one of four girls in a class of forty during her course. Thirty-six boys and four girls. It is because of such a scarce number that women’s agony and pain generally go unnoticed or unreported. A major reason for the same is society’s perception about the female employees in the hotel industry. They do not understand that it is similar to any other day-job and it needs to be equally respected.

So what can one do about it?

As per this report, Human Resource (HR) experts blame bad or no orientation program for training the employees or the management. In the article, an  HR expert who handled Corporate HR and Training of many hotel companies in India says, “Today, most of the people dealing with labor and HR matters are ignorant of the rules and compliances to be followed while handling matters concerning allegations of sexual harassment. How many hotels’ annual reports mention the number of employee orientation programmes they undertake in the hotel. Sensitisation is most important at all levels about what all comes under sexual harassment.

In a society where depriving a woman out of modesty is considered “normal,” people need to be sensitized at all levels. There need to constant seminars, the inclusion of sexual harassment policies in the brochures, induction programs, online courses, a detailed list of what should be done and who should be called in case of harassment provided to each and every individual in the organization.

If you are a woman or someone who is witnessing any such harassment, here are some of the steps you can take:

  1. Do not stay quiet! Say no! If there is any person from the management (or the visitors) walk away if they make you uncomfortable. There is no job which demands you to be respectful towards those who demean you.
  2. Demand a copy of the sexual harassment policies from the hotel you are going to join if they haven’t already given you one. It is important for you to know how much the organization is willing to protect you. 
  3. Keep your friends and family informed if you sense anyone trying to make advances towards you. However, it is always better to file a written complaint with the Internal Complaints Committee (ICC) if the advances are too strong to overlook. 
  4. Keep yourself updated about the law. You can read articles like these or take a course which can inform you about your rights. If you are an HR, it is all the more important for you to know the sexual harassment laws and keep the employees informed about the possible remedies. You can actually help the organization design a comprehensive sexual harassment policy. 
  5. Never accept a plea from your workplace that is along the lines of “it is a first time and won’t be repeated.” Remember a crime once committed is committed and there are no two ways about it.

As a last resort, remember you can always file a written complaint to the ICC within 3 months of such crime being committed against you. If you think that it won’t be of help, file the complaint with the Local Complaints Committee (LCC) or the police station near you. Remember there is an Act in place to come to your rescue.

It doesn’t matter which industry you are working in. Harassment is harassment. Get up and speak before it gets too late.

The law is with you.



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