Friday, November 26, 2010


UCAN REPORT: Church people in India have appealed to the federal government to include women domestic workers in a bill seeking protection against sexual harassment at workplace.
Archbishop Vincent M. Concessao yesterday questioned the government’s move to exclude the section from the final draft of the Sexual Harassment Bill.
Women domestic workers, the largest workforce in India, were included in the purview of the bill when it was prepared three years ago but were later withdrawn from the final draft.
The bill will become a law once it is passed by the members of parliament.
The bill envisages that every workplace, whether organized or not, should have a forum to take up complaints of sexual harassment.
Expressing concern over the gap in the bill, the archbishop demanded the government to redress “this discrimination before it becomes a law”.
“It is difficult to understand the logic of such insensitivity to the largest and most vulnerable sector of women workers, who hardly enjoy any legal protection,” the prelate said.
The archbishop also demanded that the government supports the adoption of conservation on “Decent Work for Domestic Workers” by the International Labour Organisation at an international conference in 2011.
Jesuit Father Xavier Jeyaraj, who has been working for the rights of domestic workers, wonders why the sector has been left out of the bill.
“This is the sector which faces harassment the most. Young and tribal girls often become the victims of molestation,” said the priest, who belongs to the Indian Social Institute.
The priest demanded a separate domestic workers act as “only then we will be able to fight for their rights.”
Ranjana Kumari, social activist working for the rights of women, lamented that there is no provision for these women to complain.
She welcomed the archbishop’s statement and demanded the government to develop a mechanism to include the sector under the ambit of the bill.
Jyotsana Chatterjee, who directs the Joint Women Program of the Protestant Church of North India, said inclusion of domestic workers in the bill will help them fight for their rights.

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