Guidelines for safety of women at workplace issued

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Bhubaneswar: The School and Mass Education department of the Odisha government today issued guidelines for the safety of women employees at their workplace with immediate effect.

The government took this step after reports of some women workers, including teachers, facing sexual harassment at their workplaces.

“District Education Officers and District Project Coordinators will take prompt action in case of the complaint relating to sexual harassment. After receipt of the complaint, preliminary inquiry is to be conducted within three days and report to be submitted to the respective collector and the controlling authority,” said the guidelines.

A copy of the report will also be sent to the grievance redressal officer of the department.

It said the collector will decide on referring the matter to the local complaint committee (LCC) for necessary recommendations.

“LCC shall provide its confidential report within 30 days. After due inquiry, the collector will take a decision within 25 days of receipt of recommendations. The statutory provisions of prevention of sexual harassment to women in workplace are to be followed strictly for disposal of the complaint,” said the guidelines.

According to the guidelines, if the preliminary report finds any threat to the victim, her workplace can be changed within the district. The School and Mass Education (S&ME) department shall issue an order for the transfer of the women employee from one district to another within 15 days of receipt of the report from the collector.

However, it should be done only in exceptional cases with due diligence, said the guidelines. The LCC may also forward the complaint to the police for inquiry.

Itishree Pradhan, a woman teacher in Rayagada district, was set afire by some miscreants which led to her death in Oct 2013.

The murder of the teacher became a major political issue as the victim had submitted a complaint at all administrative branches, including the chief minister’s office, pleading for protection as she was facing sexual harassment at the workplace. But her complaint was not acted upon.

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