- The Ministry of Women and Child Development has linked SHe-Box, the online portal to report complaints of Sexual Harassment at Workplace, to all the Central Ministries, Departments and 653 districts across 33 States/Union Territories. Since women safety and sexual harassment at the workplace have become important issues and a part of public conscience since metoo movement, details of this initiative should be prepared.
- The question is quite straightforward in its demand. It expects us to explain what she-box is along with its objectives and significance.
- In the intro, explain why this issue is in news – The Ministry of Women and Child Development has linked SHe-Box, the online portal to report complaints of Sexual Harassment at Workplace, to all the Central Ministries, Departments and 653 districts across 33 States/Union Territories.
- In the main body, explain what she-box is – online complaint management system for registering complaints related to sexual harassment at the workplace. It was launched by the Ministry of Women and Child Development. The complaint management system has been developed to ensure the effective implementation of Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act (the SH Act), 2013.
- Discuss its objective – faster disposal of complaints, putting in place a framework for effective disposal of sexual harassment cases at the workplace.
- Discuss its significance – portal is an initiative to provide a platform to women working or visiting any office of Central Government (Central Ministries, Departments, Public Sector Undertakings, Autonomous Bodies and Institutions etc.) to file complaints related to sexual harassment at workplace under the SH Act. Those who had already filed a written complaint with the concerned Internal Complaint Committee (ICC) constituted under the SH Act are also eligible to file their complaint through this portal. It is also an effort to provide speedier remedy to women facing sexual harassment at the workplace as envisaged under the SH Act.
- Conclusion – Emphasize that women safety is a very pertinent issue and give your view on how far this step would be helpful.
Recently the Ministry of Women and Child Development(MWCD) has linked SHe-Box, the online portal to report complaints of Sexual Harassment at Workplace, to all the Central Ministries, Departments and 653 districts across 33 States/Union Territories.
- It is a proactive step taken by the WCD Ministry in the wake of the worldwide campaign #MeToo, where women have related their experience of facing sexual harassment and abuse at the workplace.
- This Sexual Harassment electronic Box (SHe-Box) is an effort to provide a single window access to every woman, irrespective of her work status, whether working in organised or unorganised, private or public sector, to facilitate the registration of complaint related to sexual harassment.
- Any woman facing sexual harassment at the workplace can register their complaint through this portal. Once a complaint is submitted to the ‘SHe-Box’, it will be directly sent to the concerned authority having jurisdiction to take action into the matter.
- Those who have already filed a written complaint with the concerned Internal Complaint Committee (ICC) or Local Complaint Committee (LCC) constituted under the Sexual Harassment Act are also eligible to file their complaint through this portal.
- It is to ensure the effective implementation of the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act (the SH Act), 2013.
- The portal also provides information on 112 institutions empanelled by MWCD to conduct training/workshops on the issue of sexual harassment at the workplace.
- It also has the option for resource persons and institutions willing to contribute to training on this subject in various organisations to submit their applications.
- SHe-Box will provide a platform to these empanelled institutes/organisations to share their capacity building activities with the Ministry which in turn will be able to monitor the activities of these institutes/organizations so empanelled from across the country.
- Till November 2018, as many as 321 complaints have been registered with ‘SHe-Box’ out of which 120 are related to central ministries/departments, 58 are from state governments and 143 are from private companies.
- 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 central and state governments, once a complaint is submitted to the portal, it will be directly sent to the section of the employer concerned. Through this portal, WCD as well as the complainer can monitor the progress of the inquiry.
- Raising awareness:
- It brings about with it an awareness of the topic which is still quite a taboo in India, and will hopefully embolden women to raise their complaints, rather than remain silent. The platform aligns with the EEOC (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission) in the US.
- SHe-Box will encourage more women to come forward to name perpetrators and seek justice.
- Ensure fairness and action:
- SHe-Box stands over and above the whims of an organisation, as the Internal Committee’s/Local Committee’s functioning “may” be at the mercy of the organisation. These Committees will be increasingly under pressure to ensure that they execute their responsibility adequately, as they could be monitored.
- Independent and external assistance:
- SHe-Box also provides a forum outside the organization for female employees to complain to. With the complaints being monitored in SHe-Box, organizations will step up their efforts to ensure that they provide a safe workplace to female employees.
- Data analysis and convenience:
- SHe-Box will also help the Indian government track the number of incidents and understand the magnitude of the problem. Finally, a victim could always report to other authorities through a physical document or an email. A portal provides convenience.
- In addition, the SHe-Box portal is fairly user-friendly.
How SHe-Box can be made more effective
There are a few shortcomings that should be rectified to make the portal even more effective:
- Confidentiality: However well-intentioned such a system is, unless it ensures utmost confidentiality, female employees will hesitate to utilize it. Any indication on the portal to confirm confidentiality will be reassuring to a victim raising a complaint.
- Provisioning for whistle-blowers: The portal only allows a victim to lodge a complaint. If a whistle-blower section was to be added, it could prove to be vital.
- Handling unknown or multiple respondents: Currently, there is no provision to submit a complaint against an unknown respondent, i.e., someone whose identity may be unclear to the victim. Also, a provision to complain against multiple respondents needs to be included for the SHe-Box to be comprehensive.
- Intimidating for the lower strata: If the portal allows a written complaint to be scanned and uploaded, it would help.
- Mandatory Aadhaar number: It would help if the Aadhar card number were to be made optional to alleviate the fears of the victim.
- Clarity of process and scope: Certain aspects of SHe-Box and its process and coverage are still unclear. For example, when the WCD Ministry forwards the complaint received on the portal to the concerned organisation, who at the organisation receives it is a question.
- Having a dedicated role or mentioning who is responsible for receiving and following up on the complaint is required.
- Also, there needs to be improved scope for consultation and assistance, especially in the unorganised sector.
SHe-Box is a step in the right direction to challenge the status quo and to finally give the Indian working women the fair representation and support they deserve.