An e-platform that will enable women employees of the central government to file sexual harassment complaints online is likely to be launched this month.
“We have worked vigorously in the last two-three years in this area. We are going to launch an online platform where women can file sexual harassment-related complaints,” Women and Child Development (WCD) Minister Maneka Gandhi told reporters on the sidelines of a workshop here today.
“We have just been waiting for the NIC (National Information Centre) to establish it. It (platform) should be here this month,” Gandhi, who was addressing heads of Internal Complaints Committees (ICC) of various ministries and departments, added.
The decision to host an online platform for sexual harassment cases was taken by the WCD ministry last October after the minister received complaints from women employees from various ministries.
The e-platform will be hosted on the WCD ministrys website and the complaints will then be taken up with the respective ministries or departments.
“We hope our ICCs work in such a way that hopefully, we wont have the need for using such a platform to seek redressal. Also, we have had an e-box facility for the last one year for children to file complaints anonymously. We have received hundreds of cases through that and we have taken it up,” Gandhi said.
The minister asked the heads of ICCs to deal with frivolous cases “very strictly” and “be careful”.
Her ministry, too, received many such cases, she said. “I have zero tolerance for such frivolous cases,” Gandhi declared.
In her opening address at the workshop, Gandhi also said, “Common bathrooms for males and females is a form of harassment.”
Asked by reporters to elaborate, she said, “What I meant was that ICCs should also look at workplace management so it becomes a happier place for women.”
“Sometimes, women do not want to go to a bathroom used by men. The ICC should extend its mandate to want better facilities for women, which will eventually cut down on feeling of unhappiness experienced by women.”
She also urged representatives of all ministries to ensure compliance within their domain.
“So, HRD Ministry should it ensure it in all schools and colleges, the Finance Ministry in all companies, and PSUs, among other ministries,” she added.
The Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013 mandates that all workplaces with more than 10 workers constitute an internal complaints committee for receiving complaints of sexual harassment.
The Union government has a strength of 30.87 lakh employees. According to the Census of Central Government Employees, 2011, women constitute 10.93 per cent of the total force.
The minister later in the day also launched a module for online registration of child care institutions (CCIs) at another event at Shastri Bhawan here.
“The purpose of this registration is to get an exact assessment as to the number of CCIs that we have, as also details about children, like age group, and other related information. It is a work in progress, but it will eventually help us get a broader picture,” Maneka said.
Asked about the recent survey on the number of the CCIs and orphans, a senior WCD official said, “We have some data at our disposal, but we have asked all the states to respond to us in three months time.
“This would allow us to cross-verify the data as also reconcile information, since in many cases, a child presumed to be an orphan may have been restored to his or her family, or more may have come in.”
The official said the registration has been made mandatory for all CCIs, and that way, a proper online directory of these institutions can be maintained.
“Tourists and ordinary people, if they see an abandoned child can look up on the web, as this would be in public domain, and contact the nearest CCI to rescue that child,” the official added.