A day after M J Akbar was forced to step down as Union Minister in the wake of the #MeToo campaign against sexual harassment, Women and Child Development Minister Maneka Gandhi Thursday urged all recognised political parties to set up internal committees immediately to look into the complaints of sexual harassment.
“I have requested the Presidents/In-charge of all recognised national and state political parties to constitute the Internal Complaints Committee (ICC) as mandated under the #SexualHarassmentAtWork Act 2013,” Gandhi tweeted. “This is in view of the fact that political parties employ a large number of personnel, including women, in their offices. It is our prerogative to ensure that women enjoy a safe working environment.”
The Indian Express Wednesday had reported that no political party, including the BJP and the Congress, has set up an internal complaints committee as mandated as mandated in 1997 by the Supreme Court in the Vishakha judgment and in 2013 by the Statute, at their main offices.
According to Gandhi, she has written to six national and 59 regional parties to form internal complaints committee against sexual harassment and post information about it on their websites. “We are trying to get to every single form of harassment that is being experienced by women at the workplace,” she told PTI.
Last week, Gandhi had said that her ministry will set up a committee of senior judicial and legal persons to look into the issues that are coming out of the #MeToo movement.
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. The Minister had earlier also written to all Bollywood production houses to form an ICC, following which about seven obliged.
The WCD Minister also asked the National Commission for Women (NCW) to take every “#MeTooIndia complaint of #SexualHarassmentAtWork for expeditious disposal as and when complainants approach them.” She said: “I request aggrieved women who have faced #SexualHarassmentAtWork to formally approach @NCWIndia if they so desire. They can even mail them at their dedicated address: firstname.lastname@example.org.”
Akbar, who resigned Wednesday after several women accused him of sexual misconduct when he was their Editor, is the most high-profile among several men, particularly in film, entertainment and media, who have been named by women as part of the #MeToo movement.