Some things never change
Ladies, it’s your time now!
To gather courage and voice
To put behind your fears
‘Cos if he touched you or felt you
Or passed lewd jokes
At your work place
Are you still going to suffer from stiff silence
Or will you get up
And report harassment
On ‘SHe-Box’ today
Fighting Sexual Harassment in the Workplace is and has been a risky affair.
Kudos to Mrs. Maneka Gandhi, Minister of Women and Child Development who launched an online portal on Tuesday, 7th November, 2017 – the “SHe-Box” which helps deal with the increasing menace of sexual harassment at workplaces.
This online complaint system hosted on the website of the Ministry of Women and Child Development is pretty comprehensive.
All complaints related to sexual harassment in the workplace would be applicable to both government and non-government organisations. The motto “A safe workplace is every woman’s right”, is loud and apt.
What Is SHe-Box
OK, I will make it simpler for the tech-savvy ladies. ‘SHe-Box’ is a sexual harassment-cum- workplace harassment electronic box. The website url is shebox.nic.in.
The homepage of the website has 2 main options for the users. One option is ‘Register Your Complaint’, and the second one is ‘View status of Complaint’.
When you click on the link to register a complaint, you have to choose whether you are a government employee or employed in a private firm. Once you have clicked the option applicable to you, a form will show up where you, as a user, are to register your details like Name, Designation, Email, Company name, Aadhaar number etc.
Hope you are getting the first whiff of RELIEF by reading this info on Fighting Sexual Harassment in the Workplace.
BTW, what prompted such a step to be taken by the Central Govt.? The answer lies in the flood of complaints got from people working in govt. sector, which convinced the govt. to extend the cause of fighting sexual harassment to those working in private sector. Well done, dear Government!
According to Mrs. Maneka Gandhi, “We received 346 complaints from women employed in the government sector. Seeing such a huge response we are opening SHe-box to all women who have faced any kind of sexual harassment at the workplace in India”.
Voice speak – From Mrs. Maneka Gandhi
While launching SHe-Box – a welcome portal dedicated to fighting sexual harassment, Mrs. Maneka Gandhi said that this type of harassment could include use of foul language or cracking of lewd jokes.
“There has been an international campaign in which women have complained about harassment in their workplace. In the last one month, this has picked up steam basically because of allegations that stem from women from Hollywood. It has opened up a Pandora’s Box where lots of women have come forward and narrated their own experiences. This is the first country in perhaps the world that is responding as a government,” she said.
When asked what kind of harassment can be raised through the central portal, Mrs. Maneka Gandhi said, “It could be against all forms of inappropriate behaviour, not necessary physical, it could be cracking lewd jokes, staring, anything meant to intimidate women. We have received complaints about women being given punishment posting because they didn’t relent to demands of sexual favours from a senior. Even cases where women are replaced or denied a promotion or increment post maternity leave can be filed through it”. The Minister further added that many of the complaints are even likely to be about the fact that the firm doesn’t have any internal sexual harassment complaint cell, which is mandatory as per law.
“Not just physical harassment but also complaints of being transferred or terminated by an employer, discrimination due to maternity (can be filed). It is not necessary that there is physical touch but (harassment can include) men using foul language or cracking lewd jokes.”
That’s a BIG BIG BLOW to all those men, I tell you.
An Offshoot Of #MeToo campaign
While referring to the #MeToo campaign on Twitter (which was sparked off by allegations of sexual harassment against Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein), Mrs. Maneka Gandhi said, “India is the first country in the world that is responding as a government.”
Under the ministry, the cell will look into every complaint filed online and share it with the internal complaints committee (ICC) of the concerned organisation. This actually is a mandatory requirement under the Sexual Harassment at Workplace Act, 2013.
Can the online complaints be monitored?
YES. Complainants will be able to monitor the status of the inquiry initiated by the ICC.
Real Complaint Or Frivolous?
Yes, that’s an important and valid point too.
Mrs. Maneka Gandhi feels that women should refrain from filing “frivolous complaints” as it would undermine the initiative. “Women have to be very careful about what they think constitutes harassment. If ten frivolous complaints come, we will weaken. Complain only when you think you have been wronged badly and we can help you.”
Well-said Mrs. Gandhi!
But here is a catch.
SHe-Box is meant for “all women” in the ORGANISED sector. The Minister said it is difficult to extend it to the unorganised sector but in case complaints are filed, the ministry will follow up through the district magistrate or local police.
One more point-to-jot-down from Mrs. Gandhi –
“There will be a unit in the Ministry who is dedicated simply to redressing wrongs which have been expressed to us. We hope that through media more and more women will realise that they now have an avenue”.
There is one thing for sure – addressing sexual harassment in the workplace is not late in the day, though a bit late to have materialised. I do hope many women in the organised sector who have faced sexual harassment in the workplace get help and justice. What are your views about this newly launched concept of Fighting Sexual Harassment in the Workplace? Don’t forget to write in for this important cause.
Images Source: Zee News, Indian Express, Deccan Chronicle