Sexual harassment of women at workplace bill passed amidst coal-gate chaos

New Delhi Amid din over coal block allocation issue, the Lok Sabha today passed a bill which seeks to protect women, including lakhs employed as domestic workers, from sexual harassment at workplace.

The Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Bill, 2010, piloted by Women and Child Development Minister Krishna Tirath, was passed without discussion amid uproar with BJP members storming the Well.

Under the Act, the sexual harassment includes any one or more of unwelcome acts or behaviour like physical contact and advances, a demand or request for sexual favours or making sexually coloured remarks or showing pornography.

The acts or behaviour whether directly, or by implication, include any other unwelcome physical, verbal or non-verbal conduct of sexual nature.

Non-compliance with the provisions of the Act shall be punishable with a fine of up to Rs 50,000.

Repeated violations may lead to higher penalties and cancellation of licence or registration to conduct business.

The Act defines domestic worker as a woman employed to do household work in any household for remuneration whether in cash or kind, either directly or through any agency on temporary, permanent, part time or full time basis, but does not include any member of the family of the employer.

A Parliamentary Standing Committee, which had examined the
Bill, had held the firm view that preventive aspects reflected in it has to be strictly in line with the Supreme Court guidelines in the 1997 Vishaka case.

The apex court's judgement in the case not only defines sexual harassment at workplace but also lays down guidelines for its prevention and disciplinary action.

The Bill makes it mandatory that all offices, hospitals, institutions and other workplaces should have an internal redressal mechanism for complaints related to sexual harassment.

Story First Published: September 03, 2012 16:29 IST

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