Sexual harassment at the workplace is often brushed under the carpet, despite many efforts by organisations and the government to address it and create a safe working environment for all.
In another step in that direction, the Ministry of Women & Child Development, early in November, opened its online complaint portal – Sexual Harassment electronic-Box or SHe-Box – to accept complaints regarding sexual harassment at the workplace.
The platform, which was launched in July, earlier only took complaints from women working in or visiting, central government departments.
The SHe-Box offers a single-window access where a woman facing sexual harassment at her workplace, whether in the public or private sector, can file a complaint through this portal.
Once a complaint is lodged, it is sent to the concerned organisation’s internal complaint committee. Through the portal, the ministry, and the complainant can monitor the progress of the inquiry conducted by the complaint committee.
“This is a historic step since it is probably the first ever time that the government of any country has launched an online portal to receive complaints of sexual harassment at the workplace. The government is completely committed to provide a safe and fair environment to working women,” Minister for Women and Child Welfare Maneka Gandhi had said at the launch of She-Box in July.
She said the complaints would be strictly monitored by the ministry. The online portal was developed by the ministry to ensure effective implementation of Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013 (SH Act).
The minister said the government will carry out a national-level survey to asses and understand the magnitude of the extent of sexual harassment of women at the workplace.
The SHe-Box will also provide a platform to empaneled institutes and organisations to share their capacity building activities with the Ministry. As of now, reports said that over the last five months, empaneled institutes, organisations and companies have organised 35 capacity building exercises which were attended by approximately 1,700 people.
According to a government release, the online complaint portal is a step in realisation of the vision of Digital India programme to achieve gender equality and women empowerment.
Globally, there is increasing attention towards sexual harassment, as seen in the #MeToo campaign on social media this October.