Vedic Global is committed to creating and maintaining the safest possible environment for all participants in Vedic Global activities. It is the duty of Sanatanis, spouses, partners, and other volunteers to safeguard to the best of their ability the welfare of and to prevent the physical, sexual or emotional abuse of children and young people with whom they come in to contact.
The following policy reflects the spirit and intent of State and Federal legislation that prohibits sexual harassment. It acknowledges that Vedic Global has the responsibility to inform people about sexual harassment and take steps to prevent it. This policy is also a formal statement to ensure all Sanatanis understand that they have a personal duty of care when working with members of the community, particularly young people.
Sexual harassment is unwelcome or uninvited behaviour of a sexual nature that causes offence, intimidation, humiliation or embarrassment. Various oral, visual or written and physical behaviours can constitute sexual harassment. It can be a single incident, a series of incidents, or people required to operate in an environment that is sexually permeated. It is the impact of the incident that is assessed, not the intent.
Specific behaviours can include
- Inappropriate emails, voice mail messages or telephone calls.
- Sexually explicit jokes, banter or innuendo
- Viewing downloading or printing pornography.
- Display sexually explicit or pornographic pictures or objects or graphic material
- Sexual comments, questions, or insinuation about a person’s private life, propositions, continual requests or invitations
- Inappropriate/Unsolicited comments about a person’s physical appearance, personal or sex life
- Lewd, offensive gestures, staring, ogling, or leering
- Excessive attention and persistent requests for dates, request for sexual favours or prepositioning others
- Unwelcome physical contact uninvited/unnecessary familiarity, such as brushing against another person, physical intimacy
- Physical contact, such as touching or grabbing
- Crude or suggestive jokes
- Physical intimidation, such as invading another person’s space or blocking the way
- Comments based on gender stereotypes
- Indecent exposure, sexual assault or rape (also criminal acts)
An individual or group of people, irrespective of age, can be victims of sexual harassment. Similarly and individual or group can be perpetrators. Sexual harassment can be behaviour between men and women or people from the same sex.
Where the sexual offence is also a criminal offence, it will be the choice of the victim to report the incidence to the police. If the victim is underage the parents/guardian and police should be immediately notified as the sexual harassment is not about genuine relationships, friendship or mutual attraction.
Appropriate physical contact
Sanatanis when coming in contact with people whether it be presenting, donations, awards, scholarship, and other paraphernalia to young people the appropriate level of physical contact is handshake otherwise our traditional Namastey/Pranam/Ashirvad and in reciprocation Charansparsh by the recipients are appropriate physical contacts to be initiated.
Duty of care for Minors or Young people.
Sanatanis are expected to ensure respectful and appropriate behaviour at all times when minors and young (Yuva) people are under their care. Any inappropriate physical or sexual contact with them to be treated as seriously and reported to the police. In case of concern, the matter should be reported to the concerned person in Vedic Centre/ Vedic Global.
Managing and Reporting Sexual Harassment
In case you have a concern or been personally offended by the sexual nature of someone’s behaviour, it is important to let the offending party know and request to stop such behaviour. If the behaviour continues or it is particularly serious in the first instance, or you fear for someone else’s safety, you must peak with the concerned person at the Vedic Centre/Global immediately. Confidentiality is very important and must be adhered to.
Vedic Global/Centre will not tolerate sexual harassment. All matters raised to be investigated as per laid down guidelines. The principles of natural justice to be applied. Disciplinary action to be taken in proven cases.
President/concerned authority may manage the issue personally and provide the support to any person making the complaint personally or on behalf of the aggrieved party. If the matter cannot be resolved at Vedic centre level following the guidelines or the behaviour of the alleged harasser has not stopped then the matter may be referred to an appropriate authority higher up in Vedic Global.
It is essential that all the Presidents of Vedic Centres must receive a sexual assault training and must have a copy of sexual harassment policy.
False Complaint and Defamation
The law against defamation acts as a deterrent to make false or vexatious complaints. If a Sanatani is found to make a false complaint with deliberate and inappropriate intent, then a disciplinary action is taken. A person against whom a complaint has been made by another Sanatani or non-member is free to pursue defamation action.
The victimisation of a person who has raised an issue of sexual harassment, or was a witness, is a serious matter. Complaints of victimisation to be treated seriously and referred to Vedic Centre President or appropriate authority in Vedic Global for investigation. If found correct disciplinary action be taken against the concerned Sanatani.
Guidelines to handle complaints at Vedic Centre/Vedic Global
Complaints of harassment
Role of the President of the Centre/Vedic Global authority: where the complaint is made President of the Vedic Centre/ Authorised person of Vedic Global must listen to the complainant and provide support to the person who has been harassed:
The President/Vedic Global Authority must:
- Listen to the complainant without prejudgement to either party.
- If appropriate, encourage the complainant to speak to the alleged harasser and convey their feeling on the matter. This can be done in writing as well.
- Ensure that alleged harasser is treated fairly and given ample opportunity to put forward their views/story on the matter and produce a witness if appropriate.
- Determine if the matter can be resolved at this stage. If so to act accordingly and periodically review to ensure that the harassment has ceased.
- If not resolved at this level then refer the matter to Vedic Global to the appropriate authority. Information to other authorities including police should be passed on after seeking the consent of the person being harassed.
Role of the appropriate authority at Vedic Global
The responsibility at Vedic Global rests with the director designated for the purpose. When the president of concerned Vedic Centre refers the matter or if it is referred directly by another person, the concerned director must seek legal advice and after doing so:
- Arrange an interview with the complainant/harassed and ensure that a third party is present as a witness to this interview and support person.
- Hear out all issues seriously and emphatically.
- Allow the complainant/harassed to call witnesses to provide their information.
- Counsel the complainant/harassed about the available processes that could be used to resolve the matter.
- Record the grievance. Take accurate notes using complainant’s/harassed’ s own words as far as possible. Check all the details with the complainant/harassed.
- Obtain the agreement of the complainant’s on the preferred way they want to proceed.
- Maintain confidentiality and keep the records safe and secure.
At this stage, the authorised director decides whether to refer the matter for an independent investigation or to interview the alleged harasser personally. If after seeking advice the concerned director concludes that the complaint is not substantiated then he/she should
- Clearly explain the reasons for the findings to both the parties
- Advise the complainant that if they are not satisfied with the findings then the matter may be taken to their independent legal advisor.
- Retain all the records to prove that the director concerned handled the matter appropriately and provide the records should the external proceedings arise.
If after seeking advice if the concerned director concludes that the complaint is substantiated, the following outcome may be appropriate for Vedic Global to pursue with the harasser:
- A public or private apology, written or verbal, to the complainant
- A warning that they are legally accountable for their own behaviour and
- Their continuing membership may be terminated as per the constitution