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SC seeks ideas to enforce anti-sexual harassment law at workplace

The court had issued a notice to all the states in the last hearing of the matter on January 4

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The IIF has sought to put in place the guidelines for the implementation of the law at all levels. Wikimedia Commons
The IIF has sought to put in place the guidelines for the implementation of the law at all levels. Wikimedia Commons
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The Supreme Court on Friday asked the NGO Initiative for Inclusion Foundation (IIF) to give suggestions for effective implementation of a law to curb sexual harassment of women at workplaces, particularly in the private sector.

Chief Justice Dipak Misra, Justice A. M. Khanwilkar and Justice D.Y. Chandrachud sought the suggestions after the Central government in its affidavit claimed that it has taken steps to enforce the Protection of Women from Sexual Harassment at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013.

Appearing for the IIF, senior counsel Sanjay Parikh said there was no implementation of the law in private companies.

Also Read: One out of Two Children face Child Sexual Abuse: The Growing Problem of Child Sexual Abuse in India

He said a meeting was held with Assocham four years ago but nothing happened after that.

The IIF has sought to put in place the guidelines for the implementation of the law at all levels.

The court had issued a notice to all the states in the last hearing of the matter on January 4. The notice was returnable in four weeks. IANS

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India’s Junior Foreign Minister M.J. Akbar Quits Following #MeToo Harassment Allegation By Women

Several female journalists welcomed the minister's resignation on television channels. "This is a moment to celebrate," said journalist Saba Naqvi

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#MeToo, women, sexual harassment
Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) politician M.J. Akbar takes the oath during the swearing-in ceremony of new ministers, July 5, 2017, at the Presidential Palace in New Delhi. The Indian minister and veteran newspaper editor announced his resignation, Oct. 17, 2018, while still insisting that the accusations of sexual harassment are false. VOA

India’s junior foreign minister has resigned following allegations by more than a dozen female journalists of sexual harassment when he was the editor of prominent newspapers. He has dismissed the allegations as “baseless and fabricated.”

M.J. Akbar’s resignation is the highest profile since a #MeToo movement gathered momentum in India with women accusing prominent men in the media and entertainment industries of sexually inappropriate behavior.

Akbar stepped down two days after he filed a criminal defamation lawsuit against journalist Priya Ramani, the first to name him for sexual misconduct.

“Since I have decided to seek justice in a court of law in my personal capacity, I deem it appropriate to step down from office and challenge false accusations against me,” Akbar said in a statement.

sexual harassment
M. J. Akbar flanked by Amb Syed Akbaruddin and Ambassador Tanmay Lal at an event at the Permanent Mission of India in NY City. Flickr

Ramani said she looks forward to getting justice in court, tweeting, “As women we feel vindicated by MJ Akbar’s resignation.”

The women who have accused Akbar of inappropriate behavior include journalists who are now in prominent roles in the media industry.

Political fallout

Although Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government has made no comment on the allegations against Akbar, pressure is growing to respond to the charges. Women’s groups, journalists’ associations and the opposition Congress Party had demanded Modi act against him.

Political analysts said Akbar’s continuation would have hurt the government as it gears up for general elections next year, laying it open to charges of being insensitive to women. Modi has projected a pro-women image and launched several initiatives to prevent female foeticide and to educate girls.

Modi will be the chief guest for the inaugural session of the programme on Friday which is being held at Vigyan Bhawan by the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas. Wikimedia Commons
Prime Minister Narendra Modi Continues To Stay Mum On The #MeToo Movement. Wikimedia Commons

“I am surprised the government did not ask him to quit earlier,” said Ajoy Bose, an independent political analyst in New Delhi, adding that it was difficult to ignore the accusations. “Too many women had come forward, there was a floodgate of allegations.”

Flood of accusations

Twenty female journalists who had worked under Akbar have rallied behind Ramani following Akbar’s defamation suit by writing a letter to the court asking it to consider their testimonies.

Ramani had written an article a year ago for Vogue India titled, “To the Harvey Weinsteins of the World,” without naming Akbar. After women began recounting their sexual harassment experiences, she retweeted the article earlier this month, saying it was about him and called him a “predator.”

Akbar was “an expert on obscene phone calls, texts, inappropriate compliments and not taking no for an answer,” Ramani had said. She had worked with him in the 1990s.

#MeToo, women, sexual harassment
Bollywood actress Tanushree Datta presents a creation by designer Sanjeet Anand at the Bangalore Fashion Week in Bangalore, India. VOA

The spark for India’s #MeToo movement was lit by Bollywood actress Tanushree Dutta, who named actor Nana Patekar for sexually harassing her during a film shoot.

Also Read: #MeToo Movement Shows The Decaying Soul of India: Mahesh Bhatt

Minister Akbar is the latest to resign following the flood of accusations that have followed. Two editors of leading dailies have stepped down in recent days, a Bollywood production house has closed, and India’s biggest comedy group is in disarray.

Several female journalists welcomed the minister’s resignation on television channels. “This is a moment to celebrate,” said journalist Saba Naqvi, who has also accused him of sexual harassment. “Akbar’s case was so blatant.” (VOA)