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MeToo movement: Govt sets up GoM headed by Rajnath Singh to deal with sexual harassment at work place

The Group of Ministers will, within 3 months of its constitution, examine the existing provisions for the safety of women and recommend further measures required to strengthen and make them more effective.

By: Express Web Desk | New Delhi |
Updated: October 25, 2018 6:40:33 am
Indian #MeToo (Representational Image)

The government on Wednesday constituted a Group of Ministers to strengthen the legal and institutional frameworks to deal with and prevent sexual harassment at workplace. This comes days after M J Akbar was forced to step down as union minister after several women accused him of sexual misconduct when he was their editor. The GoM will recommend action required for effective implementation of the existing provisions, as well as for strengthening the existing legal and institutional frameworks for addressing issues related to sexual harassment at workplace.

Headed by Home Minister Rajnath Singh, the GoM includes Defence minister Nirmala Sitharaman, Road and Transport minister Nitin Gadkari and Union Minister for Women and Child Development Maneka Gandhi. The Group of Ministers will, within 3 months of its constitution, examine the existing provisions for the safety of women and recommend further measures required to strengthen and make them more effective.

With the #metoo movement gaining momentum, Maneka Gandhi had earlier expressed her solidarity with the movement and assured that her ministry will set up a committee of senior judicial and legal persons to look into issues of sexual harassment. Gandhi said she believes in the “pain and trauma behind every single complaint” and cases of sexual harassment at work “must be dealt with a policy of zero tolerance”. She later urged all political parties to set up internal committees.

The Indian Express had reported that no political party, including the BJP and the Congress, has set up an internal complaints committee as mandated by the Supreme Court in the Vishakha judgment at their main offices. Section 4 of the Sexual Harassment at Work Place (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act mandates every organisation which employs women to constitute an internal complaints committee headed by a senior woman employee.

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The Ministry of Women & Child Development has also launched an Electronic Complaints Box that enables women, irrespective of their work status, to raise their voice against sexual harassment at workplace. Once a complaint is submitted to the ‘SHe-Box’, it is directly sent to the concerned authority having jurisdiction to take action into the matter.  A mechanism will be put in place to regularly monitor the action taken on the complaints.

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