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India: Amended the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace Bill to Cover Domestic Workers

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by IDWFED published Sep 03, 2012 12:00 AM
On 3 September 2012, the Lok Sabha passed a major bill, The Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Bill, 2010, piloted by Women and Child Development Minister Krishna Tirath, on protection of women against sexual harassment at workplace along with two other legislations without debate.

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INDIA -

On 3 September 2012, the Lok Sabha passed a major bill, The Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Bill, 2010, piloted by Women and Child Development Minister Krishna Tirath, on protection of women against sexual harassment at workplace along with two other legislations without debate.

The most significant amendment in the bill is to cover domestic workers employed full-time, part-time or temporarily for household work, who were excluded from the purview of the original bill on the ground that it would be difficult to create a redressal mechanism for complaints of their sexual harassment.

Another important amendment is to define sexual harassment, which was missing in the original bill brought in 2010. The bill now says “sexual harassment” includes any unwelcome act or behaviour directly or by implication of physical contact and advances, or a demand or request for sexual favours, or making sexually coloured remarks or showing pornography or any other unwelcome physical, verbal or non-verbal conduct of a 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.

About 47.5 lakh women registered as domestic workers in the country will benefit from it.

Women activists and organisations have welcomed the passing of the Bill, but voiced their apprehension about “the actual implementation and passing-on of the benefits that this would now afford to the women.”

“The passing of the Bill comes as a huge step forward in bringing laws protecting women against sexual harassment at workplace,” said National Federation of Indian Women general secretary Annie Raja. “Women activists and organisations working for the welfare of women have been demanding the passage of the Bill for over a decade now and we are very happy that the provisions of the Bill include protection for domestic workers.”

“While this is a welcome inclusion, our area of concern is the implementation of the laws,” said Ms. Raja. “We have witnessed disappointing results in the implementation of the legal provisions brought in for protecting women against domestic violence and dowry. The Centre and the State governments need to bring in strong mechanism to ensure that women in India actually benefit from this positive step. There is also a need to constantly review and include women who work in the new emerging unorganised sectors.”

Sources:
1. Lok Sabha passes bill to protect women at workplace
http://www.dnaindia.com/india/report_lok-sabha-passes-bill-to-protect-women-at-workplace_1736333

2. Lok Sabha passes bill against sexual harassment at workplace
http://www.firstpost.com/politics/lok-sabha-passes-bill-against-sexual-harassment-at-workplace-442008.html

3. Lok Sabha passes bill to protect women at workplace
http://ibnlive.in.com/news/lok-sabha-passes-bill-to-protect-women-at-workplace/288194-37-64.html

4. Women’s groups sceptical about implementation of Bill
http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/article3855769.ece

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Story Type: News

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