| May 15th, 2009

* bangladesh: high court lays down sexual harassment guidelines

We would like to hear from our readers on the following news from Bangladesh – How many of you think this will make a difference how ‘women’ are viewed on the street / at work force/ and our community ?  Do you think this actually will stop eve teasing ? Most importantly – when & how these guidelines will be implemented & enforced in the workplace ?

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Dhaka, May 14 (bdnews24.com)—The High Court on Thursday laid down a set of guidelines to prevent sexual harassment on women and children at work places, educational institutions and on the streets.

It has defined the harassment and said the compliance of the guidelines was mandatory until those were passed into law in parliament.

The bench of justices Syed Mahmud Hossain and Kamrul Islam Siddiqui gave the rulings on a petition filed in public interest by executive director of Bangladesh National Women Lawyers’ Association Salma Ali.

The petition was filed on Aug 7 last year following an incident of sexual harassment against a teacher of drama and dramatics at Jahangirnagar University.

The court in the guidelines asked authorities to set up sexual harassment complaint centres at work places, educational institutions and constitute committees to investigate charges.

A woman will head such committee that will have no fewer than five members, mostly women .

Sexually suggestive remarks directly or on the phone, indecent email, giving indecent looks and calling someone ‘Sundori’ in a bad sense will be admitted as sexual harassment in court.

“This revolutionary verdict will work as an amulet in preventing sexual harassment,” said Ali told reporters after the ruling.

The guidelines say names of the complainants and defendants will not be made public before one is proved guilty.

Lawyers can lodge complaint on behalf of the complainant and the security of the complainant must be ensured, the ruling said. Female complainants will be able to lodge complaint separately. The accused will be handed over to the police after he is proved guilty, says the guideline.

Hostile environment at work and educational institutions should be prevented. Divisional action should be taken against those responsible for sexual harassment at workplace, teh court said.

The punishment for sexual abuse can be both fine and imprisonment, said Fawzia Karim, lawyer for the petitioner.

After the petition was filed, the High Court asked the government and others concerned to explain why guidelines on sexual harassment will not be given.

The cabinet secretary, law secretary, women and children affairs secretary, labour secretary, chairman of Dhaka University Grant Commission and vice chancellors of Dhaka and Jahangirnagar universities were asked to reply.

SOURCE: http://www.bdnews24.com/details.php?id=84234&cid=2

 

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