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Sexual harassment doesn't happen in government offices?

It has been about eight years that the first Government Resolution (GR) was issued instructing all government offices to constitute of committee for prevention of sexual harassment of women employees at workplace.

However, sources claim that that there are still 10 departments in the district that haven’t formed the committee yet. Moreover, the ones that have formed the panel have failed miserably in creating awareness among the workforce.

Sexual harassment
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According to a highly placed source in District Collectorate, despite sending constant reminders to these 10 departments and asking the officials to form the committee by May, no department has informed the Collectorate about the formation of the panel.

And the departments that have formed the committee have not conducted any meeting since the inception. The source said that committee members claim that as not even a single case has been reported to them till date, there was no need to meet frequently.

One such committee conducted its first meeting in December 2010 -- six months after its inception. And last year, the committee held only three meetings, and none of them lasted for more than 20 minutes. This is found through the documents available at the Home Branch of District Collectorate.

The documents also exposed that the committee received a complaint on sexual harassment on June 2011, but the case was reviewed only in May 2012. Moreover, the case was closed in February this year due to lack of proof against the accused, and since then the committee had not conducted even a single meeting.

“The committees weren’t formed just to handle cases of sexual harassment at work, but also to ensure that such activities are discouraged,” said advocate Rama Sarode, a trainer of women’s rights. She added that if women are not approaching the committees, it doesn’t mean that sexual harassment doesn’t happen.

“It’s just that the victims are getting the kind of feeling that can complain against the injustice freely,” said Sarode, adding that although there is no specific number of meetings that a committee should conduct mentioned in the guidelines -- norms laid by Supreme Court and even the GR states that such meetings should be held on a regular basis.

Deputy district election officer, Apurva Wankhede who is chairperson of the sexual harassment committee of District Collectorate, said, “I had called the committee’s meeting a week ago but it was called off, as apart from me, only one member was present.”

When asked her if the contact numbers of the committee members were displayed in the department, she said that she had created awareness among the women employees when she had even held a training session a year ago.

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