Sunday, July 12th, 2020

Protection of Women against Sexual Harassment at Workplace Bill 2010 : Review

Zakir Hussein,, INVC,, Delhi,, A number of new initiatives for the welfare of women and children were taken up during 2010.  In a landmark initiative, Protection of Women against Sexual Harassment at Workplace Bill 2010 was introduced in Lok Sabha on 7th December 2010. Salient features of the Bill are: • The Bill proposes a definition of sexual harassment, which is as laid down by the Hon'ble Supreme Court in Vishaka v. State of Rajasthan (1997). Additionally it recognises the promise or threat to a woman's employment prospects or creation of hostile work environment as 'sexual harassment' at workplace and expressly seeks to prohibit such acts. • The Bill provides protection not only to women who are employed but also to any woman who enters the workplace as a client, customer, apprentice, and daily wageworker or in ad-hoc capacity. Students, research scholars in colleges/university and patients in hospitals have also been covered. Further, the Bill seeks to cover workplaces in the unorganised sectors. • The Bill provides for an effective complaints and redressal mechanism. Under the proposed Bill, every employer is required to constitute an Internal Complaints Committee. Since a large number of the establishments (41.2 million out of 41.83 million as per Economic Census, 2005) in our country have less than 10 workers for whom it may not be feasible to set up an Internal Complaints Committee (ICC), the Bill provides for setting up of Local Complaints Committee (LCC) to be constituted by the designated District Officer at the district or sub-district levels, depending upon the need. This twin mechanism would ensure that women in any workplace, irrespective of its size or nature, have access to a redressal mechanism. The LCCs will enquire into the complaints of sexual harassment and recommend action to the employer or District Officer. • Employers who fail to comply with the provisions of the proposed Bill will be punishable with a fine which may extend to Rs. 50,000. • Since there is a possibility that during the pendency of the enquiry the woman may be subject to threat and aggression, she has been given the option to seek interim relief in the form of transfer either of her own or the respondent or seek leave from work. • The Complaint Committees are required to complete the enquiry within 90 days and a period of 60 days has been given to the employer/District Officer for implementation of the recommendations of the Committee. • The Bill provides for safeguards in case of false or malicious complaint of sexual harassment. However, mere inability to substantiate the complaint or provide adequate proof would not make the complainant liable for punishment. The Government also launched a new scheme for adolescent girls called the Rajiv Gandhi Scheme for Empowerment of Adolescent Girls– SABLA.  The Scheme was launched on 19.11.2010 on the birth anniversary of Smt. Indira Gandhi to address multi-dimensional problems of adolescent girls between 11 to 18 years.  The scheme would be implemented through platform of Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) projects and Anganwadi Centers (AWCs) initially on a pilot basis in 200 select districts across the country.  Around 1 crore adolescent girls of 11 to 18 years per annum are expected to be covered under the scheme during the initial years.  The government has made an allocation of Rs. 1,000 crore for the scheme in 2010-11. SABLA is a Centrally-sponsored scheme implemented through the State Governments/UTs with 100% financial assistance from the Central Government for all inputs except Nutrition (of Rs. 5 per day per girl) where state government would share 50% cost. ‘SABLA’ aims at empowering adolescent girls of 11-18 years by improvement in their nutritional and health status and upgrading various skills like home skills, life skills and vocational skills.  It also aims at equipping the girls on family welfare, health, hygiene etc. and information and guidance on existing public services along with aiming to mainstream out of school girls into formal or non-formal education.  Nutrition would be provided to all 11 to 15 years out of school girls and all girls – whether school going or out of school-in the age of 15 to 18 years. An integrated package of services for adolescent girls is envisaged to provide i) Nutrition provision @ Rs. 5 Per  beneficiary –per day for 300 days  in a year;  ii) IFA supplementation ; iii) Health check-up and Referral Services; iv) Nutrition and Health Education NHE);  v) Counseling/Guidance on family welfare, ARSH, child care practices and home management.  Vi) Life Skill Education and accessing public services; vii) Vocational training for girls aged 16 and above under National Skill Development Programme (NSDP). The Scheme is expected to tackle the intergenerational cycle of malnutrition in an effective manner since these girls would be the mothers of the next generation.  The scheme also provides an opportunity for other ministries and departments to target these adolescent girls at the AWC through SABLA for an integrated approach.  With due attention and care given by the States and UTs in implementation of this ambitious scheme, it would in the long term yield in reduction of high  levels of anemia, MMR Child Marriages, early births and other social malpractices as also  enhance the self esteem , social and economic  status of women. Similarly Indira Gandhi Matritva Sahyog Yojana (IGMSY) was approved by Government of India, to be implemented in 52 districts across the country on a pilot basis. It is a Conditional Maternity Benefit (CMB) scheme, aims at improving the health and nutrition status of pregnant & lactating (P&L) women. The Scheme envisages providing cash to P&L women of 19 years & above for first two live births (all Governments/PSUs (Central & State) employees will be excluded as they are entitled for paid maternity leave) during pregnancy and lactation period. Each of the beneficiaries will be paid Rs. 4000/- in three installments between the second trimester till the child attains the age of 6 months on fulfilling the following conditions:-
Cash Transfer Conditions
Rs. 1500 (at the end of second trimester) Registration of pregnancy within 4 months One ante natal checkup (minimum) Attending counseling session (minimum one)
Rs. 1500 (three months after delivery) Child birth registration Immunization Attending growth monitoring and counseling sessions
Rs. 1000 (6 months after delivery) Exclusive breastfeeding for 6 months & introduction of complementary feeding (self certification by mother) Immunization Attending growth monitoring and counseling sessions
Around 13.8 lakh P & L women per annum are expected to be benefited under the scheme. IGMSY is a centrally sponsored scheme which would be implemented through ICDS infrastructure at the State, District and grassroots level Cells with 100% financial assistance from the Ministry of Women and Child Development. Integrated Child Protection Scheme (ICPS) was introduced in 2009-10, with the objective of creating a safe and secure environment for children in difficult circumstances.  This year, the coverage of the scheme has been expanded to 30 States which have signed Memorandum of Understanding for implementation of the Scheme.  The implementation of Juvenile Justice Act, 2000 has been pursued actively and 486 Child Welfare Committees and 516 Juvenile Justice Boards have been set up till October, 2010. In Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) scheme the number of operational Anganwadi Centers and Projects have increased to 11.95 lakhs (out of 13.67 lakhs sanctioned) and 6615 Projects (out of 7015 sanctioned) respectively.  Common Mother and Child Protection card for ICDS and NRHM to strengthen the curriculum of care of pregnant women and children less than three years of age was introduced. National Nutrition Week was celebrated from 1-7th September on the theme of ‘Nutrition Promotion for a Stronger Nation.’ A delegation to IBSA (India-Brazil-South Africa) Women’s Forum in Brazil visited Brasilia between 13-15 April, 2010 led by MOS(IC) WCD Smt. Krishna Tirath to participate on the issues of consequences of the impact of Global Financial Crisis on Women’s lives and violence against women. National Conference of State Ministers and Secretaries was held on 16-17 June, 2010 in New Delhi which was chaired by MOS(IC) WCD Smt. Krishna Tirath to discuss the agenda on ICDS, ICPS, SABLA, IGMSY, Domestic Violence Act, Dowry Prohibition Act and Child Marriage Prevention Act. National Child Awards for exceptional achievements were awarded to 26 children by the President of India.  National Award for Child Welfare for 2009 to 5 institutions and 3 individuals and Rajiv Gandhi Manav Seva Award for 2009 to 3 individuals were also given. Bal Bandhu Scheme approved under the Prime Minister’s Relief Fund for a period of 3 years to be implemented by National Commission for Protection of Child Rights NCPCR in 10 districts of 5 States namely Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Bihar, Chhattisgarh and Maharashtra with the aim to protect the rights of children in areas of civil unrest. A composite outreach event, Vatsalya Mela combining information in all schemes and services relating to the Ministry and various events was held at Delhi Haat for six days from 14-19th November, 2010. Carings is a web based MIS portal for child adoption being developed by Central Adoption Resource Authority CARA to streamline the adoption procedures and to establish transparency in the process. It will provide for provisional on-line registration of Indian parents for domestic adoption and also status tracking by the parents.  The software is in the final stage of preparation. National Mission for Empowerment of Women: The National Mission for Empowerment of Women was launched on 8th March, 2010.  The National Mission Authority is headed by the Prime Minister with 13 participatory Ministries, Deputy Chairman of Planning Commission, Chairperson of the National Commission for Women, Chief Ministers of Andhra Pradesh and Bihar (by rotation) and 5 eminent persons from civil society as its members. The Central Monitoring Commission (CMC) under the National Mission Authority is headed by the Hon’ble Minister of Women and Child Development. The first meeting of the CMC was held on 14th July, 2010 to take stock of all the convergence issues with different Ministries/Departments. [caption id="attachment_21865" align="alignnone" width="538" caption="Protection of Women against Sexual Harassment at Workplace "]invc[/caption]



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