You and I both know that 8 out of 10 women in our lives have faced harassment, for some it’s even on a regular basis. With the media covering stories of rape and molestation on a constant basis, it’s no wonder that we have a natural tendency to shrug things off and scroll past the multitude of posts of their stories about eve-teasing and catcalling. Responding to the alarming rate of harassment in the country, the Central Government has finally risen to the occasion, addressing some of the sexual stereotypes that exist around us. The Ministry of Women and Child Development (WCD) has announced the launch of SHe-Box (Sexual Harassment Electronic Box), an online portal for women to share their grievances. The minister of the department Maneka Gandhi stated that the idea to create the online safe space came up in June after various female employees of the Central government approached her with complaints of harassment at work.
As per Times of India’s report in the interlude between July and today, over fifteen complaints have been received through the portal. The relevant wing monitoring the online space doesn’t see this as a small number and feels that these complaints reflect the attitude of male employees in the government and the increasing need for this safety mechanism to protect women at workplaces. The portal follows a process driven cycle - the complainant’s statement is forwarded to the Internal Complaints Committee (ICC) of the relevant department, that can be continuously surveilled by both complainant as well as the WCD, followed with set deadlines according to the law that the case abides to.
The safe space now, in its second and final phase of launch, has embarked on a new journey to include private employees as well. The online harassment system also focuses on an alternate motive - to ensure that the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013 is being effectively implemented and to act as a reinforcing agency to provide speedier justice. According to the Act, every workplace that employs more than 10 people needs to mandatorily constitute an ICC for female employees to voice out their experiences of harassment. “Not treading on anyone’s toes”, Gandhi confessed that this was an important step for the government, “To remedy the cases before they reach the level where legal action may be warranted”.
Although the portal is a thoughtful undertaking by the government, an important question is posed – sexual harassment is seen to affect the female gender alone, but masculine toxicity, patriarchy and their far-reaching impact also include the LGBTQ community and men in India. Discrimination, harassment and abuse knows no gender and while the portal is definitely a much-needed step to curb such behaviour it needs to broaden its scope to include everyone that is affected and mistreated, not addressing it to women alone.
To share your opinions and register your complaint with She-Box, click here.
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