India to introduce sexual harassment laws

Sexual harassment of women in the workplace is to be outlawed in India. A
bill is being introduced which will make the offences punishable with five
years in prison and a fine worth the equivalent of £285 (approximately US$400).
The new law is expected to be in place by the end of the year. (See page 49).

The National Commission for Women, (NCW), the prime mover behind the new
law, is currently consulting with public and private organisations over how it
will be implemented. Suggestive remarks, whistling, staring, sexually slanted
and obscene jokes, use of pornographic material, demands for sexual favours,
threats, innuendos, physical assault and molestation are all covered by the
legislation.

Victims of sexual harassment would have the option to seek transfer of the
accused person or insist on disciplinary action being initiated by the
employer. The onus of proving innocence would be on the accused. NCW
chairperson Vibha Parthsarthi told the Press Trust of India that the response
from the private sector had not been as positive and encouraging as from the
public sector.

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