India’s #MeToo calls for law enforcement
NEW DELHI — A complaint by a retired Bollywood actress living in the United States alleging sexual harassment on a 2008 movie set has galvanized women in India, but for the country’s burgeoning #MeToo movement to reach broader swaths of society, lawyers and activists say a labor law must be more aggressively implemented.
Indian Women’s Press Corps President T.K. Rajalakshmi said at a panel discussion in New Delhi on Thursday that the outpouring on social media reflects “a lack of faith in the system.”
The Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace Act of 2013 says that Indian workplaces can be held liable for sexual harassment, and must create committees to investigate and redress complaints. But critics say the law is not typically enforced.
But nearly five years since the law came into effect, not enough managers or employees are aware of it, in part because of a lack of corporate and political messaging, said Naina Kapur, the attorney who argued the Vishakha case before the Supreme Court.
For the movement to take hold in a broader strata of Indian society, the 2013 sex harassment law must be implemented more broadly, said Sunieta Ojha, a lawyer who regularly conducts workshops on the law.