The WCD ministry is set to move a long-pending amendment to the Indecent Representation of Women (Prohibition) Act (IRWA), 1986, that prohibits “indecent representation of women through advertisements or in publications, writings, paintings, figures or in any other manner”.
Bringing the Act in tune with the Information Technology Act, 2000, it expands the existing Section 4 of the Act which prohibits publication or sending by post books and pamphlets with such indecent representation. It will now include ‘any material’ that is published or cause to be distributed. This would bring into the purview of the legislation social media platforms and digital means communication such as WhatsApp, Skype, Viber, Snapchat, Instagram.
Moreover, the ministry has proposed to expand the meaning of the word ‘advertisement’ to include its various ‘digital and electronic forms or SMS, MMS’.
The amendment Bill was earlier introduced in the Rajya Sabha during the UPA government in December 2012, following which it was referred the Parliamentary Standing Committee. The WCD ministry’s proposed amendments, announced on Monday, are based on the Standing Committee’s report of 2013 to expand the Act to include forms of online communication and make applicable penalties similar to that provided under the Information Technology Act, 2000.
A Centralised Authority, headed by member secretary of National Commission of Women, with members from Press Council of India, Advertising Standards Council of India, Ministry of Information and Broadcasting and a gender expert, will investigate all complaints relating to such indecent representation of women.
Meanwhile, following a meeting with the sexual harassment survivor from Air India on Monday, Women and Child Development Minister Maneka Gandhi directed the internal complaints committee of the airline to complete the inquiry by the end of this month.
The air hostess from the national carrier met the minister regarding her complaint under the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act 2013. “In addition to the airline, the minister has also taken up the matter with civil aviation minister Suresh Prabhu,” said ministry officials.