#MeToo Panel Created By Govt To Tackle Workplace Harassment Dissolved, RTI Reveals
The #MeToo Panel formed by the Modi-led government to prevent sexual harassment at workplaces now stands ‘dissolved’. The move was hailed as a significant step to strengthen legal frameworks towards preventing any sexual harassment. The committee was formed on October 24, 2018, and comprised of Union Minister Nitin Gadkari, Nirmala Sitharaman, Maneka Gandhi and was headed by the then-Home Minister Rajnath Singh.
In October, the Government had promised to look into existing laws and policies on sexual harassment and suggest ways to strengthen them. It also claimed to have wanted to come up with ways to make sure that justice was delivered with “time-bound implementation.”
The panel was formed after MJ Akbar stepped down as the Minister of State for External Affairs on 17 October 2018 after several sexual harassment charges were levelled against him.
A Right to Information (RTI) request filed by The Quint has revealed that the committee has been dissolved. Moreover, the government said that it would not reveal the minutes of any of their meetings.
“It is to inform you that with the constitution of the seventeenth Lok Sabha and formation of a new government, said Committee is no longer in existence.” The government added that the “required information is exempted from disclosure under Section 8(i) of the RTI Act 2005.”
Rituparna Chatterjee, an independent journalist who covered the #MeToo movement extensively, told The Quint, “It’s amply evident that talking about women’s rights and acknowledging the endemic problem in our society is not seen as conducive for politicians to bring up.”
In October, 2018, a Group of Ministers, headed by @rajnathsingh was set up to deal with #MeToo complaints. @Manekagandhibjp @nsitharaman were members. Any word on its fate post elections? Who is following this up?
— #MeTooIndia (@IndiaMeToo) July 1, 2019
While the government’s apathy on such a crucial issue is a rude shock, it is not unexpected for many women who had voiced their experiences.
The Quint report stated that there had been no indication of the committee’s reconstitution. “Hence, we neither know about the work undertaken by GoM in the previous months nor if it led to the law being strengthened or restructured,” it added.