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Definition of sexual harassment at workplace needs to be expanded: NCW


Press Trust of India New Delhi
The definition of sexual harassment at workplace needs to be expanded to include gender-based cybercrimes with "sexual connotations" committed on women employees, the NCW has recommended.
The NCW, in its report to the Women and Child Development (WCD) Ministry, also suggested that the number of members in the internal committee probing sexual harassment at workplace should be increased to an odd number so as to take a majority view. The present composition of the internal committee mandates a minimum of four members.
The selection to this committee should be via election to make the process more transparent, it said.
The NCW also recommended the period of reporting about sexual harassment at workplace must be increased from three to six months.
The National Commission for Women (NCW) has also called for amendments to the provisions of the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace Act, 2013.
"The definition of sexual harassment should be expanded to include gender-based cybercrimes with sexual connotations committed on female employees in workplace," the NCW said.
The regional consultation on review of sexual harassment at workplace conducted by the NCW gave these suggestions. The consultation also saw participation of legal experts.
The report recommended that the definition of sexual harassment should be able to distinguish between degrees of harassment and provide concrete guidance to the internal committee towards recommending punitive measures.
It also suggested that the provision for conciliation should be done away with as sexual harassment is not a dispute that could be resolved through conciliatory mechanisms.
"Section 10 of the Act (sexual harassment of women at workplace act) providing for conciliatory process has received a fair amount of criticism from many stakeholders, in that, it acts as a hindrance on women reporting sexual harassment and that indirect pressure might be applied to make the complainants withdraw their complaints," the report said.
The NCW also suggested that regular training and orientation programmes be conducted by the central and state authorities for the members of the internal committees.

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First Published: Sep 28 2019 | 1:50 PM IST

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