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news details
Sexual harassment at workplaces: Most departments lack internal complaint panel
11/20/2018 10:49:29 PM
Ishtiyaq Ahmad
Early Times Report
SRINAGAR, Nov 20: Despite strict directives by government to constitute internal complaint committees to probe complaints of sexual harassment at workplaces, the government departments present a sorry state of affairs with most of them yet to form the committees.
An official pleading anonymity pointed out that internal complaint committees constituted in a few departments remained only an eyewash.
The (Prevention, Prohibition and (Redressal) Act which was enacted by the central government on December 9, 2013, and under Section 4(1) of the act, makes it mandatory for every employer to constitute an internal complaint committee with an aim of providing protection against harassment of women at workplace and for the redressal of complaints in a stipulated time-frame.
The act makes it mandatory for all the departments having 10 or more employees to form such a committee and an employer can be fined `50,000 for violation of the act.
However, sources told Early Times that the non-serious attitude of the departments on this issue can be gauged from the fact that majority of them have failed to act despite getting repeated reminders from the state government.
General Administration Department (GAD) issued orders several times, directing administrative heads of their respective departments to constitute committees at the state, divisional and district levels.
Women have been facing harassment at work places, but most of the time no action has been taken. "We need committees in every college, school in Jammu and Kashmir," a woman professor teaching in one of the colleges said.
"Majority of the women are working today, but there is no security for them at workplaces in Jammu and Kashmir. The government or other rights group only advocate about rights when something untoward happens and when the incidents dies down, the voices of advocates get silent," said a female teacher. "If women do not feel safe and comfortable in their native land how can they be safe outside," the teacher added.
Another female, who is working in a government department, said that there are numerous instances when she has resisted men passing lewd remarks in her career. "The institutionalized harassment is ingrained in our system and the people who are helm of affairs always took undue advantage of women. Earlier, raising voice was considered a stigma but now people are raising their voice and slowly the perception is changing," she said.
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