Bill cleared to protect women

The Union  Cabinet on Thursday cleared a Bill purported to protect women, including domestic workers, from sexual harassment in workplace.

The Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Bill  will have a panel to redress the complaints, that would benefit about 47.5 lakh women registered as domestic workers in the country.

Sources said the draft legislation aims to ensure  a safe environment for women at workplace, be it public or private, organised or unorganised sector.

Besides, the Bill covers not only women who are employees, but also those who enter the workplace as client, customers, apprentices, daily wage workers or in ad-hoc capacity. Students, research scholars in colleges and universities and patients in hospitals will also come under the Bill’s ambit.

The amendments are based on recommendations  of a Parliamentary Standing Committee.
The Women and Child Development Ministry had, however, rejected the committee's recommendation to include male workers under the ambit of the legislation.

Women’s empowerment

The Cabinet had first cleared the Bill in November 2011. If the bill is passed in Parliament, women employees in India will be empowered to sue their colleagues for sexual abuse and harassment.

It allows women to complain against harassment ranging from physical contact, demand or requests for sexual favours  or showing pornography. The bill also says that employers who do not comply will be penalised.

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