India looks to tighten sexual harassment laws: government officials

Vastavam web: India is considering tightening sexual harassment laws, government officials said on Thursday, after an avalanche of complaints of abuse lodged by women in recent weeks thrust the issue to the forefront of politics. Changes to the laws are being considered as the government weighs different proposals to tackle harassment, one of the officials said. The government focus on the law has come after women’s rights groups complained that the existing laws do not go far enough to address the widespread problem of sexual harassment.

The allegations related to when the junior foreign minister, M.J. Akbar, was a top newspaper editor. He is the biggest casualty since the #MeToo movement in India gained traction in recent weeks. A Delhi court began proceedings on Thursday in a defamation suit filed by Akbar against one of the women who levelled accusations against him. The previous government passed a workplace harassment act and an act to amend criminal law in 2013. The latter made sexual harassment, stalking and voyeurism crimes. The government should review certain provisions of the sexual harassment prevention law, said Rebecca John, a lawyer who is defending the woman against whom Akbar has filed a defamation suit.