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Govt sets up GoM to look into sexual harassment at work place; Maneka thanks PM, HM

Govt sets up GoM to look into sexual harassment at work place; Maneka thanks PM, HM
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New Delhi, A Group of Ministers, headed by Home Minister Rajnath Singh, has been constituted by the government to strengthen the legal and institutional frameworks to deal with and prevent sexual harassment at workplace.

The GoM has been set up in the wake of #MeToo movement where several women have publicly named people who had allegedly harassed them at their workplace.

Former editor M J Akbar had to resign as Minister of State for External Affairs following allegations of sexual harassment against him by former colleagues.

In a statement, the home ministry said the members of the GoM are Road Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari, Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman and Women and Child Development Minister Maneka Gandhi.

The GoM will examine the existing legal and institutional frameworks for dealing with matters of sexual harassment of women at workplace.

It 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, the statement said.

The GoM will, within three months of its constitution, examine the existing provisions for the safety of women, including those mentioned above, and recommend further measures required to strengthen and make them more effective.

The GoM has been constituted in view of the felt need for broader consultation on this issue, from the point of view of developing appropriate recommendations and laying down a comprehensive plan of action and for ensuring its time bound implementation, the statement said.

The government is committed to ensure the safety and dignity of women in the workforce, it said.

The Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act is the key legislation for preventing and protecting women against sexual harassment in the workplace and to ensure effective redressal of complaints of sexual harassment.

The Ministry of Women and 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 authority concerned having jurisdiction to take action into the matter. A mechanism will be put in place to regularly monitor the action taken on the complaints, it said.

Union minister Maneka Gandhi Wednesday thanked Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Rajnath Singh for constituting a Group of Ministers to strengthen the legal and institutional frameworks to deal with and prevent sexual harassment at workplaces.

The Union Women and Child Development minister is one of the members of the GoM headed by the Union Home minister. Others members of the group are Road Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari and Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman.

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 workplaces, an official said.

Referring to #MeToo movement, Gandhi said in the last few weeks, there has been a movement across the country with women complaining through social media of being harassed at some point in their career by men who either head organisations or are senior to them.

"This is extremely worrisome. And this doesn't happen only in the field of films or media, it happens in every normal office. We have been trying to approach it from different directions.

"For instance, making it limitless in terms of time for when you can complain and one of the suggestions we had was to have a GoM that will look into strengthening National Commission for Women or institutions that could take care of complaints like these. Many of these complaints are many years old but they still need to be looked into," she said.

The Union minister thanked the prime minister and the Home minister to constitute the GoM.

"I am very grateful to the prime minister and Home minister for agreeing to organise a GoM in which there will be two male and two female ministers who will look into all the aspects of what is necessary to give security to our women at workplaces," she said.

The GoM has been set up after the #MeToo storm intensified in the country with many women revealing through social media details of harassment they faced at workplaces.

Journalist-turned-politician M J Akbar had to resign as the minister of state for external affairs following a spate of complaints by her former woman colleagues that he allegedly harassed them during his tenure as editor of various media publications.

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