Close on the heels of sexual assault allegations by a junior colleague against Tehelka founder-editor Tarun Tejpal, Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar proposed that all working places having women staff should have a separate grievance cell for them.
Addressing queries on women security in workplaces at an event organised by MCC Chamber of Commerce and Industry in the city on Saturday, Kumar emphasised the individual and not his profession should be taken into account while dealing with sexual harassment cases.
“I had introduced a women’s grievance cell in the Lok Sabha. In this regard, the Vishaka case judgment should also be taken into account,” Kumar said.
In 1997, in what is known as the Vishaka guidelines, the Supreme Court directed employers to ensure security for women by putting in place proper mechanisms at the workplace. The complaint mechanism should provide a complaints committee, a special counselor or other support service. Despite the apex court ruling, only a handful of companies are believed to have set up such committees. The apex court also observed the complaints committee should be headed by a woman and not less than half of its members should be women.
On Saturday, when quizzed about the conduct of the media that has increasingly played a crucial role in highlights issues relating to sexual offence, Kumar remarked, “Any individual or human being, regardless of his profession, should learn to respect others. Law should take its own course and whatever needs to be done according to law must be done expeditiously.”
The Speaker further expressed despair that despite strict legislations, crimes against women still persist.
She called for a change of mindset and asked for more women to participate in the democratic process, highlighting how a mere 11 percent legislators in the Lok Sabha are women.