October 24, 2018 / 11:45 AM / 22 days ago

India ministers seek to tighten rules against sexual harassment

FILE PHOTO: A microphone and placards are placed on the pavement as Indian journalists attend a protest against what they say is sexual harassment in the workplace in New Delhi, India, October 13, 2018. REUTERS/Anushree Fadnavis/File Photo

NEW DELHI (Reuters) - Four Indian cabinet ministers will suggest steps to address sexual harassment at work, the government said on Wednesday, after a growing #MeToo movement sparked accusations against more than a dozen men and forced a minister to resign.

The two men and two women will review existing provisions on women’s safety and recommend further measures, the Ministry of Home Affairs said in a statement.

Women’s groups say a requirement under current harassment laws that accusations have be made to a workplace complaints committee within three months is unfair. They also say it is not clear who takes responsibility for ensuring compliance once a decision is taken on a complaint.

“The government is committed to ensure the safety and dignity of women in the workforce,” said the ministry, whose boss, Rajnath Singh, will lead the group.

India’s junior minister for foreign affairs, M.J. Akbar, resigned this month to fight accusations of sexual harassment from more than a dozen women during his previous career as a journalist. He has denied wrongdoing and filed a defamation suit against one of his accusers.

The #MeToo movement, which began in the United States more than a year ago, gained traction in India last month after an actress accused a veteran actor of behaving inappropriately 10 years ago.

Since then many women have accused men from the worlds of media, Bollywood, politics and art of offences ranging from harassment to rape.

The government statement on Wednesday also said that the Ministry of Women and Child Development had launched an “electronic complaints box” for harassment cases.

Reporting by Krishna N. Das; Editing by Nick Macfie

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