2010-11-26 15:56:11

Indian Archbishop urges legal protection for domestic workers

(November 26, 2010) An Indian church leader has appealed to the federal government to include women domestic workers in a bill seeking protection against sexual harassment at workplace. Archbishop Vincent Concessao of Delhi on Thursday 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workforce in India, were included in the purview of the bill when it was prepared three years ago but were later withdrawn from the final draft.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 support 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, said, “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 called for a separate domestic workers act as “only then we will be able to fight for their rights,” he said.

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