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SANSAD TV: 75 YEARS: LAWS THAT SHAPED INDIA- THE POSH ACT, 2013

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Highlights of the Bill

  • Every employer is required to constitute an Internal Complaints Committee at each office or branch with 10 or more employees.  The District Officer is required to constitute a Local Complaints Committee at each district, and if required at the block level.
  • The Complaints Committees have the powers of civil courts for gathering evidence.
  • The Complaints Committees are required to provide for conciliation before initiating an inquiry, if requested by the complainant.
  • Penalties have been prescribed for employersNon-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.

Key Issues and Analysis

  • There could be feasibility issues in establishing an Internal Complaints Committee at every branch or office with 10 or more employees.
  • The Internal Complaints Committee has been given the powers of a civil court.  However, it does not require members with a legal background nor are there any provisions for legal training.
  • The Bill provides for action against the complainant in case of a false or malicious complaint.  This could deter victims from filing complaints.
  • Two different bodies are called ‘Local Complaints Committee’.  The Bill does not clearly demarcate the jurisdiction, composition and functions of these Committees.
  • Cases of sexual harassment of domestic workers have been specifically excluded from the purview of the Bill.
  • Unlike sexual harassment legislation in many other countries, this Bill does not provide protection to men.

Conclusion:

  • Women can experience lingering health problemsyears after workplace sexual harassment or sexual assault even by words also, a new study finds.
  • These health problemscan include high blood pressure, poor-quality sleep, anxiety and symptoms of depression, the researchers found after doing medical exams of about 300 women.
  • The findings are timely given the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements, in which a growing number of women are talking about their sexual harassment and assault experiences, according to a statement about the research, which was published in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine.
  • This has to be analysed from global perspective in addition to Indian protection laws. (more articles in coming days)

Way Forward:

  • Union Minister for Women and Child Development said they would set up a panel of legal experts to look into the #MeToo allegations.
  • Civil Society and NGOs are trying to see how the movement can be taken beyond its current confines of urban centres.The hope now is that sexual harassment at workplace will cease to be condoned or brushed under the carpet.
  • SDG 5 is about gender equalityand Sustainable Development Goals are the blueprint to achieve a better and more sustainable future for all.
  • They address global challenges, including those related to poverty, inequality, climate, environmental degradation, prosperity, and peace and justice.
  • The Goals interconnect and in order to leave no one behind, thetarget is to achieve them by 2030.
  • Sexual harassmentand the #MeToo movement resonated at the opening plenary session of the fifth Global Symposium on Health Systems Research with speakers highlighting how this is just the “tip of the iceberg” and there is a long road ahead in achieving sustainable development goals with leaders sometimes being sexual harassers.
  • The #MeToo movement has shown us that even the most privilegedamong women have not been spared from cultures of sexual harassment and exploitation.