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A bill aimed at preventing sexual harassment of women at workplace was introduced in parliament Tuesday.

It includes a clause which brings students, research scholars, patients and women in the unorganised sector within the ambit of the proposed law.

The Protection of Women Against Sexual Harassment at Workplace Bill will be the first legislation addressing this issue.

Currently, all sexual harassment charges are dealt with using the guidelines issued by the Supreme Court in a 1997 judgment.

Introducing the bill, Women and Child Development Minister Krishna Tirath said its objective was to enact a legislation to provide safe, secure and enabling environment free from all forms of sexual harassment to every woman, irrespective of her age or employment status.

The bill envisages that every workplace, whether in the organised or the unorganised sector, should have a forum to take up complaints pertaining to sexual harassment.

In the case of the organised sector, there will be internal complaint committees, in the absence of which a penalty, including a fine of Rs.50,000 for the first offence, will be imposed on the workplace organisation.

The bill has provisions to treat cases of victims of sexual harassment at workplace at par with rape victims.

Under the provisions of the bill, no information about a complainant or a complaint would be disclosed in any manner, not even in response to right to information applications.

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