Govt to introduce sexual harassment bill soon

Women can now look forward to a secure workplace with the government on Thursday proposing to bring in the long-pending sexual harassment Bill under which an employer would be liable to pay a fine of Rs 50,000 on failing to comply with its provisions. A meeting of the Union Cabinet, chaired by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, approved the introduction of the Protection of Women against Sexual Harassment at Workplace Bill, 2010, in the coming winter session of Parliament. The proposed Bill, if enacted, will ensure that women are protected against sexual harassment at all work places be it public, private or unorganised and ensure a safe environment for women at workplaces. Domestic maids, however, will not be covered under the Bill.
The Bill proposes a definition of sexual harassment, which is as laid down by the Supreme Court in Vishaka vs State of Rajasthan (1997). The definition includes any physical contact and advances or demand or request for sexual favour, sexually coloured remarks, showing pornography and any other unwelcome physical, verbal, non-verbal contact of sexual nature. Additionally it recognises the promise or threat to a woman's employment prospects or creation of hostile work environment as "sexual harassment" at workplace and expressly seeks to prohibit such acts. The Bill provides protection not only to women who are employed but also to any woman who enters the workplace as a client, customer, apprentice, and daily wage worker or in ad-hoc capacity.