Sexual harassment plaints panel sought at Gram Panchayat level

Sugrama Grama Panchayat Chunayitha Mahila Pratinidhigala Sangha, a committee of elected women members of Gram Panchayats (GP) in Karnataka, has stressed the need to set up a sexual harassment complaints committee at the GP level.

Accompanied by four foreign delegates from Thailand and the Philippines, representatives from Sugrama on Wednesday spoke about measures that need to be taken by the State considering the increasing number of incidences of violence against women.

Addressing reporters here at a press conference, Padmini Ananth, director of the committee, said that: “The complaint committee needs to be set up at the GP level as mandated under the Vishakha judgement of Supreme Court of India, but the State government is yet to do it. Chief Minister Siddaramaiah had talked about setting up fast-track courts to tackle atrocities faced by women, but the concept is yet to come into existence. Counselling centres and helplines set up for women are also inefficient in serving their purpose.”

Members of the committee maintained that they carried out protests, awareness rallies and signature campaigns at various districts in the last two weeks to draw the attention of the government.

“We have around 3,600 elected women members and have formed 51 taluk associations in 17 districts. We will continue to intensify our struggle to provide justice for women in the coming days,” Diyana Yahaya, a staff member from Asia Pacific Forum on Women, Law and Development, Thailand, said.

There is a need for strong pieces of legislation and laws to curb issues of women, not just in India but in other Asian countries also, she added.

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