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Posted at: Oct 12, 2018, 3:47 PM; last updated: Oct 13, 2018, 1:22 PM (IST)

Govt panel to look into issues raised by #MeToo

Retired SC judge likely to get mandate to hear victims

Aditi Tandon
Tribune News Service
New Delhi, October 12

As the Indian #MeToo campaign  embroiled new names, including filmmaker Sajid Khan’s, the government today said it was in the process of forming a committee to look into all issues arising from the movement.

The five-member committee, likely to be headed by retired Supreme Court judge Justice SS Nijjar, will have the mandate to hear women who have publicly named their harassers.

The committee will be asked to submit a report in three months, recommend the way forward to deal with the flood of sexual harassment allegations against senior leaders across professions, and suggest measures to make workplaces safer. 

It will work along the lines of the Justice JS Verma committee that recommended criminal law amendments to make punishment for rape severe after the December 2012 Delhi gangrape case.

Women and Child Development Minister Maneka Gandhi announced the move as pressure built on the Narendra Modi government to sack junior External Affairs Minister MJ Akbar, who has been accused of sexual harassment by nine journalists so far.

Without naming her colleague, Maneka Gandhi said, “I believe in every account of harassment every woman has shared. No woman will speak of harassment unless she has suffered it. And they are speaking up not because they want justice, but because they have endured the pain of violation for decades before gathering the courage to finally reveal it.”

Her message was seen as the government’s attempt to build moral pressure on Akbar to quit. It is learnt that the RSS  has signalled to the government that it won’t condone the charge of moral turpitude against a minister.

Sangh ideologue Dattatreya Hosbole yesterday took to Twitter to tag a #MeToo message by Ankhi Das, Public Policy Director, Facebook-India, South and Central Asia, and said, “She has articulated what I was feeling.”

Das’ message read, “You needn’t have a moment to support the journalists who have narrated their victimisation. You needn’t even be a woman. You just need to have a sensibility of what is right and what is wrong.”

“The panel will look into the legal and institutional framework in place for handling complaints of sexual harassment at work and advise the ministry on how to strengthen these,” Maneka Gandhi said. She initiated a new hashtag #DrawTheLine. It remains to be seen whether the government will draw the first line with Akbar, who returns from Nigeria on Sunday.

I believe in every account, says Maneka

I believe in every account of harassment every woman has shared... no woman forgets the victimisation suffered at the hands of a man who touches or molests her, not even an 80-year-old forgets that. —Maneka Gandhi


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