India: Government Launches Online Complaint Mechanism to Fight Sexual Harassment

By S.S. Rana & Co. December 11, 2017
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India: Government Launches Online Complaint Mechanism to Fight Sexual Harassment

​India's Ministry of Women and Child Development (hereinafter referred to as the "WCD Ministry") on Nov. 6, 2017, launched an online complaint management system for women working in both public as well as private sector organizations to lodge complaints of sexual harassment in the workplace.

The online complaint management system known as "She-Box" was launched by Smt. Maneka Sanjay Gandhi, WCD Minister and was launched to ensure the effective implementation of the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013 (hereinafter referred to as the "SH Act").

Sexual Harassment at Workplace

Sexual harassment is any unwelcome act or behavior (whether express or implied), such as:

  • Physical contact or advance.
  • A demand or request for sexual favors.
  • Making sexually colored remarks.
  • Showing pornography.
  • Any other physical, verbal or nonverbal conduct of a sexual nature.

Sexual harassment at workplace can take various forms. It can involve conduct such as:

  • Unwelcome touching, hugging or kissing.
  • Staring or leering.
  • Suggestive comments or jokes.
  • Unwanted or persistent requests to go out.
  • Intrusive questions about another person's private life or body.
  • Deliberately brushing up against someone.
  • Insults or taunts of a sexual nature.
  • Sexually explicit pictures, posters, screen savers, emails, twitters, SMS or instant messages.
  • Accessing sexually explicit Internet sites.
  • Inappropriate advances on social networking sites.
  • Behavior that would also be an offence under the criminal law, such as physical assault, indecent exposure, sexual assault, stalking or obscene communications.

She-Box

The WCD Ministry has made it mandatory for all organizations to set up an Internal Complaint Committee (hereinafter referred to as ICC) to ensure a safe environment for all working women. All the complaints lodged by women will be monitored by the WCD Ministry to ensure that necessary action is taken by the ICC of an organization.

A complaint can be registered by any women by accessing the online portal. Once a complaint is submitted to the portal, it will be directly sent to the ICC of the concerned organization/employer. Through this portal, the WCD Ministry as well as the complainant can monitor the progress of inquiry conducted by the ICC.

Internal Complaint Committee

Every organization has to constitute an Internal Complaints Committee (ICC) having the following members:

  • Chairperson—A woman working at a senior level in the organization.
  • Two members (at least)—They must be employees committed to women issues and have legal knowledge or experience in social work.
  • One member from a nongovernmental organization.

If the organization has workplaces located at different places or division or sub-division level, then ICC will be constituted at every workplace.

Highlights/Features of She-Box

Highlights of the She-Box include:

  • Speedier response to complaints.
  • The ability of women working in government as well as private organization to lodge a complaint.
  • The eligibility of those who have already filed a written complaint with the concerned ICC constituted under the SH Act to file their complaint through this portal.
  • The option of interaction with the WCD Ministry, with an assured time-bound response.
  • The assurance of protecting the dignity and safety of women.

S.S. Rana & Co. is a law firm in New Delhi. © S.S. Rana & Co. All rights reserved. Reposted with permission of Lexology.

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