Cuttack workplaces mostly not aware of women laws

Cuttack: A large number of institutions here having more than 10 employees are not aware of the laws protecting women at workforce, according to a recent study by a social organisation.

About 30 per cent heads of offices both in organised and unorganised sectors are not aware of the Visakha Guidelines-1997 of the Supreme Court or the subsequent Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplaces (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act of 2013.

Among them who were aware of such laws, only 32 per cent have formed the mandatory Internal Complaint Committee (ICC) in their offices to look into the complaints of sexual harassment of women employees.

These upsetting statistics are shown in a survey conducted in about hundred institutions located in the city by social organisation ‘Project Swarajya’ to study the condition of women employees and the status of complaint committees.

Project Swarajya Secretary Dolly Dash said the survey showed many offices even headed by women employees were neither aware of existence of such laws nor had taken the mandatory step to form the ICCs in their offices.

“Lack of legal consciousness and not properly understanding the laws which protect them, the women workforce in our society are suffering a lot,” Dash said, adding, due to absence of favourable workplaces, women productivity was not encouraging in our country.

Out of the 24 institutions, which have formed the ICC in the city, only four have registered sexual harassment cases over these years and investigated all of them. These four institutions together had registered 26 cases, of which 23 were settled amicably while the remaining three were referred to police.

Of the 68 per cent of the institutions which have not formed ICC, a whopping 45 per cent of them said they were not aware of it and 30 per cent insincere. Six per cent said they had not formed ICC because they did not have any women employees and for eight per cent it had not been necessitated as no complaint was made yet, as per the study.