NEW DELHI:Nearly 3.5 lakh women employees in the central government can now directly register complaints related to sexual harassment at the workplace with the Centre launching an online complaint management system Sexual Harassment electronic–Box (SHe-Box).
The portal is an initiative to provide a platform to women working or visiting any office of the Central Government including central ministries, departments, public sector undertakings, autonomous bodies and institutions to file complaints related to sexual harassment at workplace under the SH (Sexual Harassment at workplace) Act.
Initially the facility has been extended to employees of the Central Government but will soon be accessible to women employees of private sectors.
Launching the portal, Women and Child Development Minister Maneka Gandhi said that there are some surveys, which give the extent of sexual harassment of women at workplaces but the ministry will carry out a national level survey to assess and understand the magnitude of the problem.
The minister said that the portal is an effort to provide speedier remedy to women facing sexual harassment at work as envisaged under the SH Act.
Once a complaint is submitted to the portal, it will be directly sent to the ICC of the concerned Ministry/Department/PSU/Autonomous Body etc, having jurisdiction to inquire into the complaint.
The Government of India is the largest employer in the country employing 30.87 lakh people to carry out its various functions. As per the Census of Central Government employees, 2011, women constitute 10.93 percent (3.37 lakh) of the total regular Central Government employees. “To begin with, central government women employees can file complaints, but we are going to widen the ambit to include the private sector as well,” she said. “We just need to make a few changes in our online interface.
Once it is done, employees from private companies would also be able to lodge complaints,” Gandhi added.The decision to host an online platform for sexual harassment cases was taken by the WCD Ministry in October last year after the minister received complaints from women employees in various ministries.Interacting with reporters later, Gandhi said, “If the internal complaints committees (on sexual harassment) is working, then we are out of the picture totally.”
The sexual harassment Act mandates that all workplaces with more than 10 workers constitute an internal complaints committee for receiving complaints of sexual harassment.Maneka Gandhi also asked officials to include a section in the portal where complainants can “vent” their grievances.
She also said that the definition of what constitutes a case of sexual harassment must be made available on the online portal.