15 years on, no panel yet on workplace abuse - The New Indian Express

15 years on, no panel yet on workplace abuse

Published: 26th November 2012 09:06 AM

Last Updated: 26th November 2012 09:06 AM

Since women employees are being subjected to a lot of harassment in several government offices, the Tamil Nadu Government should urgently take steps to form a sexual harassment prevention committee following the Vishakha guidelines as has been laid out by the Supreme Court in 1997, said U Sumathi, member of State Working Women Sub-Committee.

Participating at the State-level conference of Working Women Sub-Committee, a women forum attached to the Tamil Nadu Government Employees Association, Sumathi said that women working in various departments of the Government have been facing harassment at their workplaces either from male employees or local politicians, but they were not forthcoming in filing complaints on these issues.

“Women employees working in government offices are facing harassment from higher level officials. In the case of village health nurses, anganwadi or noon-meal workers, local politicians are exploiting them a lot,” claimed Sumathi.

Recalling an incident faced by a nurse of a government hospital recently, she said the committee couldn’t take any action because the victim was not willing to file a written complaint. “It was solely because there was no sexual harassment prevention committee in the government sector,” she pointed out. Speaking to Express on the sidelines of the function, Sumitha said the Vishakha guidelines have clearly stated that a seven-member committee should be formed at the state, district and block level with a senior women government employee as its president and a 50 per cent women representation. “If such committees are formed, women will come forward to file their complaints. In the present set up, if a woman files a complaint about sexual harassment, senior officials will either transfer her or won’t initiate any action on this issue,” she claimed.

“Though a Government Order has been passed to form such committees, successive governments have not paid attention to the issue. So, we urge the present government to form the committee at the earliest,” said Sumathi.

She also said that more than 60 per cent of the government workforce are women, which is why the government should run few women bus services exclusively for working women in the headquarters of all the districts in the state during the peak hours.

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