In the run up to the International Women’s Day the district administration is going all out to increase the awareness about the need for setting up local complaint committees (LCC) to address sexual harassment at work place in each institution or organisation and plans to organise sensitisation programmes.

A weeklong safety awareness programme for women would be launched by the district administration and the Police from February 28, and creating awareness on constituting LCCs would be an integral part of the campaign, District Collector V Seshadri told The Hindu. Departments like Labour Welfare, DRDA and Women and Child Welfare would take the lead on the issue.

Despite the Supreme Court making it mandatory that all States, Union Territories, and regulatory bodies constitute LCC in each institution or organisation to address sexual harassment at work place, there is hardly any progress on the subject.

The initiative to constitute LCC was lagging behind due to the existence of grey area. Lack of awareness among people, lack of transparency in their constitution, no enforcement machinery to ensure that such committees were constituted as per the guidelines and maintenance of strict confidentiality are some of the major issues of concern.

Emphasising the need to setup LCCs, Mr. Seshadri said: “We need to take collective effort to create awareness on these committees. I think we need to do a lot in this area like holding a review and educating employees and employers about its constitution, transparency and confidentiality aspects. The onus lies on the employer as per the SC guidelines to constitute these committees and give sufficient publicity among the employees so that they can inspire confidence among them to lodge a complaint. I would also like to discuss the issue with Superintendent of Police and Commissioner of Police and see what best can be done. If required, we would take it up to the State Government.”

However, some organisations have put up grievance cells and HR committees instead of a proper LCC where majority of the issues are either getting buried within the institution or not seeing the light due to prevailing internal politics. It is not surprising that these grievance cells have become ornamental in the hands of hierarchy, said a professor at Andhra University’s Dr. Durgabai Deshmukh Centre for Women’s Studies.

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