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.