POSH Act needs additions, a few changes, says NCW chairperson

Representational image (Illustration | Amit Bandre)

Express News Service
BENGALURU: The National Commission for Women (NWC) will soon write to the Centre seeking changes in the Prevention Of Sexual Harassment (POSH) Act. One of the changes it wants is that the definition of ‘sexual harassment’ be expanded to include ‘gender-based cyber crimes with sexual connotations’ committed against women employees at their workplace. A list of suggestions have been made by Rekha Sharma, chairperson, NCW, who was in the city recently to speak at a conference called ‘Know your POSH Ecosystem’.

Some of the suggestions made by Sharma include distinguishing degrees of sexual harassment and providing concrete guidance to the Internal Committee so that the sanctity of inquest conducted by it is preserved. “There should also be clarity on the constitution and functioning of the appellant authority and decisions on appeals should be time-bound. Some inquiries go on for months – they should be limited to 60 days,” she said.

Rekha said that she has received several complaints to the NWC’s ‘C-Box’, where all sexual harassments complaints can be registered online. She said there are many cases where complainants claim they have been asked for conciliation, and that has caused tremendous trauma to the victims. “The provision of conciliation should be done away with as sexual harassment is not a dispute that can be resolved with a settlement,” she said.

Several IT hubs were part of the conference. Part of the panel were representatives from Metis, which works towards creating awareness on the Act, and works closely with IT companies. “More awareness is required. Organisations should not look at the POSH Act as a mere compliance requirement, but should drive a positive and productive workplace,” the panelists suggested.

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