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#MeToo movement raged on social media, but only 21 move NCW since October

At present, there is no centralised list being compiled on sexual harassment complaints voiced on social media under #MeToo

Amritha Pillay  |  Mumbai 

MeToo, me too, #metoo, sexual violence, sexual harassment, harassment, women

The Commission for Women’s (NCW’s) attempt to formalise the #MeToo movement seems to have failed to yield the desired results. In reply to a Right to Information (RTI) query byBusiness Standard , said that only 21 women had written to the Commission since October.

“According to the record of the Commission, 21 with effect from October 18 were received on the email ID till date,” the said in its reply. On October 18, the had in a statement said: “The Commission urges women who have come forward on social media and other platforms about their alleged harassers to send their formal written to ncw.metoo@gmail.com.” The NCW told this paper that all the 21 were taken up with the appropriate authorities.

At present, there is no centralised list being compiled on sexual harassment complaints voiced on social media under #MeToo. However, in the first few weeks of October alone, a list, which by no means was exhaustive, had more than 140 such complaints.

The document was compiled by social media accounts on a voluntary basis.

ALSO READ: Will #Metoo change the unequal gender equations in an organisation?

N S Nappinai, an advocate with the Supreme Court, explained that victims are often reluctant to formalise their complaints for various reasons. "It may be speculative; however, two reasons can explain the lower number of formal complaints (received on the NCW email ID) registered. One may be that NCW's process may have slipped from people's attention and second could be the reluctance on the victim's part to register a formal complaint, as no one wishes to experience the agony repeatedly," she said.

There seems to be more data to suggest there is a high level of reluctance. The Ministry of Women & Child Development informed the that its online complaint management system received 134 complaints. “The ministry has developed an online complaint management system titled Sexual Harassment electronic-Box (SHe-Box) for registering complaints related to sexual harassment at workplace by women, including government and private employees. This initiative received 134 complaints on the SHe-Box portal from central ministries, of which 40 cases have been disposed of,” the ministry said.

Nappinai said: “Women do not feel confident of the whole process for getting justice and, hence, the NCW has to reassure victims of a speedy justice. This low number should not make anyone question the genuinety of social media complaints,” she said.

ALSO READ: #MeToo, a campaign against sexual harassment: Time's up? Hopefully

According to an earlier RTI filed by Martha Farrell Foundation, an institution working towards ending sexual harassment of women at workplace, it was found that only 191 districts in India had constituted a local committee mandated to be formed under the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act.

Nandita Bhatt, director, Martha Farrell Foundation, said #MeToo provided many women with a platform to report about sexual harassment. "But would such a campaign be necessary if their workplaces had been equipped with adequate and sensitive redressal mechanisms to begin with?" she asked.

Reluctant victims

  • The Commission told this paper that all the 21 complaints were taken up with the appropriate authorities
  • At present, there is no centralised list being compiled on sexual harassment complaints voiced on social media under #MeToo
  • N S Nappinai, an advocate with the SC, explains that victims are often reluctant to formalise their complaints for various reasons
  • Nappinai said that one needed to do more as a system to build a safe environment for women to come forward and report cases
  • According to an earlier RTI filed by an institution working towards ending sexual harassment of women at workplace, it was found that only 191 districts had constituted a local committee mandated to be formed under the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace

First Published: Sun, January 06 2019. 23:48 IST
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