By Kriti Rathi
The Union government has 30.87 lakh employees. According to the Census of Central Government Employees 2011, women constitute 10.93 percent of the total force.
However, when it comes to reporting cases of sexual harassment, the average Indian woman—typically one who is earning barely enough money to make ends meet—may probably not even be aware that she can complain against the perpetrator.
The Sexual Harassment Act, 2013
To increase awareness, reporting of such crimes and in order to break the setbacks related to complaining, the government of India enacted the Protection of Women from Sexual Harassment at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act (the SH Act), 2013 with the objective to create a safe and secure workplace for women free from sexual harassment.
The Sexual Harassment Act mandates that all workplaces with more than 10 workers should have an internal complaints committee for receiving complaints of sexual harassment. It should cater to women working both in the organised and unorganised sector, along with establishing a redressal mechanism for the disposal of their complaints. The USP of the act is its broad coverage, which includes all women, irrespective of their work status.
According to the act, “sexual harassment at the workplace” includes circumstances of implied or explicit promise or threat to a woman’s employment prospects or creation of hostile work environment or humiliation, which can affect a woman’s health or safety.
This Sexual Harassment electronic Box (SHe-Box) is an effort by the government to provide a single window access to every woman, in full coverage. Once a complaint is submitted to the ‘SHe-Box’, it will be directly sent to the concerned authority having the jurisdiction to take action.
Launching the online facility, the WCD Minister, Maneka Sanjay Gandhi had said that this is a historic step since it is probably the first time ever that the government of any country has launched an online portal to receive complaints of sexual harassment at the workplace. The portal is also an effort to provide “speedier remedy” to women facing sexual harassment at the workplace, as envisaged under the Sexual Harassment Act.
To ensure safety and security of women at all workplaces, the Ministry of Women and Child Development (WCD) is conducting awareness-raising exercises around the provisions of the SH Act. In the first round, 29 organisations were selected and empanelled vide notification, dated 16th February 2017. Recently, to widen the outreach, WCD has invited fresh proposals from the organisations. Further, the WCD is planning to advertise for people willing to provide service as Resource Persons for the purposes of SH Act.
Featured Image Source: Pixabay
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