‘It is an effort to use the digital space for speedier response to such complaints.’
Union Ministry of Women & Child Development (WCD) has linked the “SHe-Box”—the online portal dedicated to reporting sexual harassment at the workplace—to all the Union ministries, departments and 653 districts across 33 states and Union territories, to provide timely action following such complaints.
The “SHe-Box”, which was launched by WCD Minister Maneka Gandhi last year, offers the facility of filing online complaints of sexual harassment at the workplace to all women employees in the country, including government and private employees. Those who have already filed a written complaint with the Internal Complaints Committee (ICC) concerned or the Local Complaints Committee (LCC) constituted under the Sexual Harassment Act, are also eligible to file their complaints through this portal.
Gandhi said, “Ensuring the dignity and safety of women must be the first priority for any digital society. Towards realisation of the vision of the Digital India programme, the WCD Ministry is promoting utilisation of information and communication technology to achieve the goal of gender equality and women’s empowerment. It is an effort to utilise the digital space to enable speedier response to the complaints of women against sexual harassment at the workplace.”
According to the ministry, the digitisation initiative has reduced the time taken to dispose of complaints of sexual harassment at the workplace. This year, till 20 November, as many as 321 complaints have been registered with the “SHe-Box”, out of which 120 are related to Central ministries/departments, 58 are from state governments and 143 are from private companies.
Sexual harassment cases registered on the “SHe-Box” go directly to the Central and state authorities having jurisdiction to take action in the matter. Complaints filed on the “SHe-Box” can be monitored by the complainants as well as by the ministry.
The government is the largest employer in the country, employing 30.87 lakh people to carry out its various functions. As per the census of Central employees, 2011, women constitute 10.93% (3.37 lakh) of the total regular Central government employees and providing a safe work environment to them is a big challenge for the ministry.
Explaining the importance of the portal, Gandhi said, “The SHe-Box portal is an effort to provide speedy remedy to women facing sexual harassment at the workplace. With the linking of the portal to the Central and state departments, once a complaint is submitted to the portal, it will be directly sent to the section of employer concerned. Through this portal, the ministry as well as the complainant can monitor the progress of the inquiry. This is a proactive step taken by the ministry in the wake of the worldwide #MeToo campaign, where women have opened up about their experience of facing sexual harassment and abuse at the workplace.”