Srinagar: Taking note over rising cases of crime against women, Jammu and Kashmir administration has directed departments to constitute sexual harassment committees.
J&K has recorded 3069 cases of crime against women in 2019 and the number rose to 3414 in 2020 thus showing 11 percent rise in the cases.
While the government has taken a note that many government departments in Jammu and Kashmir have failed to constitute Internal Complaint Committees (ICCs) despite the authorities having directed heads of departments to form such committees to check sexual harassment of women at work places.
The government had directed several times to administrative heads of all departments to constitute ICC to address all complaints of sexual harassment at workplaces and submit action taken report to the government with specific recommendations, in accordance with rules.
However, many government departments have failed to constitute the ICCs despite being directed by the government. “Departments have been directed to constitute sexual harassment committees to check harassment of women at work places,” a senior official said.
A woman professor teaching in one of the colleges in Srinagar said there is a need for committees in every college in Jammu and Kashmir.
She said her colleague faced harassment once in college.
“When she complained to the principal, she was told that she should instead remain silent as there exists no sexual harassment committee, which could investigate the incident,” she said.
“Majority of the women are working today. But, there is no security for women at workplaces in Jammu and Kashmir. The rights groups only advocate about rights when something untoward happens and when the incident dies down, the voices of advocates also dampen,” said a female doctor.
“If women do not feel safe and comfortable in their native land how can they be safe outside,” the doctor added.
Another female, who is working in a government department, said that there are numerous instances when she has resisted men passing lewd remarks in her career.
The Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013 was enacted by the central government on December 9, 2013, and under Section 4 (1) of the act, every head of the department is required to constitute an ICC to check sexual harassment at workplace.
The law says every institution or organization where 10 or more women work, there should be an ICC to check cases of sexual harassment against women.
Under this law, sexual harassment’ includes, physical contact and advances, a demand or request for sexual favours, making sexually coloured remarks or showing pornography.
It prescribes strict punishment, including termination of service, for the guilty and similar penalties in case of a frivolous complaint. (KINS)