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Government nod to draft Bill on sexual harassment
The draft of the much awaited Protection of Women Against Sexual Harassment at Workplace Bill 2010, provides a wide cover of justice to women who face sexual harassment and contributes to women's right to equality in the workplace.

It could well be the best Diwali gift that the government has given to women who face sexual harassment at workplace. The Union cabinet on Thursday approved the draft of the Protection of Women Against Sexual Harassment at Workplace Bill, 2010.

The proposed legislation will be introduced in Parliament during the winter session starting next week.

The draft Bill provides a wide umbrella of justice to women who face sexual harassment at their workplace in public, private and unorganised sectors. Any employer who fails to comply with the provisions of the proposed legislation would be liable to be fined Rs 50,000 (after the Bill is passed).

"The measure will help in achieving gender empowerment and equality…. This will contribute to realisation of their (women's) right to gender equality, life and liberty and equality in working conditions everywhere. The sense of security at the workplace will improve women's participation in work, resulting in their economic empowerment and inclusive growth," a government release said.

The Bill defines sexual harassment in line with the direction of the Supreme Court in the Vishaka case.

It also recognises the threat to a woman's employment prospects or creation of hostile work environment as 'sexual harassment' at workplace and expressly seeks to prohibit such acts.

The definition includes any physical contact and advances or demand or request for sexual favour, sexually coloured remarks, showing pornography and any other unwelcome physical, verbal, non-verbal contact of sexual nature.

The Bill also provides protection to a woman who enters the workplace as a client, customer, apprentice, daily wage worker or in ad-hoc capacity. Students and research scholars in colleges and universities and patients in hospitals have also been brought under the protection ambit.

The draft Bill also proposes a complaints and redressal mechanism. If the Bill is enacted, every large employer would have to constitute an internal complaints committee (ICC).

 

Source: Mail Today Bureau