An e-platform that will enable women employees of the central government to file sexual harassment complaints online is likely to be launched this month. “We have worked vigorously in the last two-three years in this area. We are going to launch an online platform where women can file sexual harassment-related complaints,” Women and Child Development (WCD) Minister Maneka Gandhi told reporters on the sidelines of a workshop here. “We have just been waiting for the NIC (National Information Centre) to establish it. It (platform) should be here this month,” Gandhi, who was addressing heads of Internal Complaints Committees (ICC) of various ministries and departments, added.
The decision to host an online platform for sexual harassment cases was taken by the WCD ministry last October after the minister received complaints from women employees from various ministries. The e-platform will be hosted on the WCD ministry’s website and the complaints will then be taken up with the respective ministries or departments. “We hope our ICCs work in such a way that hopefully, we won’t have the need for using such a platform to seek redressal. Also, we have had an e-box facility for the last one year for children to file complaints anonymously. We have received hundreds of cases through that and we have taken it up,” Gandhi said.
The minister asked the heads of ICCs to deal with frivolous cases “very strictly” and “be careful”. Her ministry, too, received many such cases, she said. “I have zero tolerance for such frivolous cases,” Gandhi declared. In her opening address at the workshop, Gandhi also said, “Common bathrooms for males and females is a form of harassment.” Asked by reporters to elaborate, she said, “What I meant was that ICCs should also look at workplace management so it becomes a happier place for women.”
“Sometimes, women do not want to go to a bathroom used by men. The ICC should extend its mandate to want better facilities for women, which will eventually cut down on feeling of unhappiness experienced by women.” She also urged representatives of all ministries to ensure compliance within their domain.
The Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013 mandates that all workplaces with more than 10 workers constitute an internal complaints committee for receiving complaints of sexual harassment. The Union government has a strength of 30.87 lakh employees. According to the Census of Central Government Employees, 2011, women constitute 10.93 per cent of the total force.