October 24, 2018 8:13:27 pm
Only 29 per cent of Indian districts have confirmed that local committees exist to address sexual harassment at workplace, as per an RTI study by Martha Farrell Foundation.
The study points to lax implementation of the 2013 Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition, Redressal) Act across India.
As per the Act, every District Officer shall constitute in the district concerned a committee to be known as the local committee to receive complaints of sexual harassment from women.
Out of 655 districts in India, 56 per cent chose not to reply to an RTI query on status of local committees, while only 29 per cent districts confirmed that a local committee had been constituted.
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“It is apparent that the Central Government needs to come up with a better monitoring system for the Act. The Act provides protection against sexual harassment of women at workplace and for the prevention and redressal of complaints,” said Nandita Bhatt, Director, Martha Farrell Foundation, an institution working towards ending sexual harassment of women at workplace.
Local committees are the only recourse for women workers working in the informal sector.
“With 94 per cent of Indian female labour force in the informal sector, the meaningful implementation of this Act is a crucial step towards their dignity and safety at the workplace,” Bhatt added.
Under RTI, districts are mandated to share the requested information, and failure to do so within the specified period is deemed to be refusal to give the information that has been requested.
The study was conducted between 2016 and 2018.
In 2016-17, the Foundation first filed for information on local committees with the district administrations across the country.
Given the non-receipt of replies from many district administrations, subsequent RTI queries were filed in state departments of Women and Child Development (barring the state of Jammu and Kashmir, union territories of Lakshadweep, Andaman and Nicobar, and Daman and Diu).
First appeals were also filed in 30 per cent of the districts.
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