Govt plans to check false sexual harassment claims

The Ministry of Women and Child Development (WCD) plans to insert a clause in the anti-sexual harassment Bill that will act as a deterrent against women who make false complaints of sexual harassment at the workplace.

Some kind of punishment will be incorporated in the Bill for women (complainants) too. The punishment will, however, be imposed if the complaint is found to be false,” Minister of Women and Child Development Krishna Tirath told media. The Bill, she said, will be sent to the Cabinet soon.

While the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Bill, 2006, has been pending with the Law Ministry for some time, the WCD will get it back to include this clause. The idea of including the “deterrent factor” came following a discussion that Tirath held with women MPs on Friday evening. “Most of the MPs were of the view that there should be some kind of punishment for women complainants too so that they think twice before making false complaints,” the minister said.

Male employees “also face harassment when such a complaint is made. If it is false, there should definitely be some punishment for the woman,” a ministry official said.

Last year, some MPs had brought up the issue and had asked the WCD Ministry to include a deterrent factor in the Bill. However, the Ministry and the National Commission of Women did not approve.

“The Bill has been stuck in the Law Ministry over this issue. Now after discussions with other women MPs, I think (the deterrent factor) is worth exploring,” the minister said.

Recently, the Ministry included the unorganised sector in the Bill. In the organised sector, universities will come under the ambit of the Bill.

“The unorganised sector will comprise labour class women, including domestic help and women working at construction sites,” Tirath said.

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