‘Bill against sexual harassment should cover domestic workers`

Last Updated: Thursday, December 8, 2011 - 19:43

New Delhi: A Parliamentary panel has strongly
recommended bringing domestic workers under the ambit of a
proposed legislation which seeks to protect women against
sexual harassment at the workplace.

Concurring with the views of different stakeholders, it
said, domestic workers who comprise 30 per cent of female
workforce in unorganised sector and are most vulnerable to
sexual harassment, should be ensured their right to work with
dignity.

The Parliamentary Standing Committee on HRD in its report
tabled in Rajya Sabha today on `Protection of Women against
Sexual Harassment at Workplace Bill 2010` said "definition of
employee, employer and workplace are required to be changed to
ensure domestic workers are brought within the ambit of this
Bill thereby upholding their rights to work with dignity."

The Bill was introduced in Lok Sabha on December 7 last
year and was referred to the Standing Committee on December
30.

It seeks to provide every woman a safe and secure
environment, free from sexual harassment.

The committee was of the firm view that preventive
aspects reflected in the proposed Bill has to be strictly in
line with the Supreme Court guidelines in Vishaka case and
sought pro-active role of NGOs in implementation of the Bill.

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

The Parliamentary Standing Committee on HRD observed that
all workplace including Central and state government
institutions are required to follow Supreme Court guidelines
on sexual harassment laid down in the Vishaka case in 1997
which covers an entire gamut of behavioural aspects.

In this context, it suggested that "preventive aspects in
the Bill, as mandated in the SC guidelines has to be reflected
in the Bill" and the title of the Bill modified to `Sexual
Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and
Redressal) Bill.

Taking into account the problems likely to be faced by
local level committee in providing redressal to victims
against highly placed government or private officials, the
committee felt state commission for women need to be involved
in handling cases against employer.

It also suggested that a distinction be made between a
minor offence and a major one in the Bill related to sexual
harassment. "Tendering apology or admission of guilt would be
fine in case of a minor offence but the same should not be
applicable to major offence," the committee said.

It said punishment should be the only of rendering
justice to the aggrieved women in major cases and for such
offences "stern punishment should be the only way out without
any scope for conciliation," it said.

PTI



First Published: Thursday, December 8, 2011 - 19:42

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