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Amidst an uproar, the Lok Sabha on Monday passed a major bill on protection of women against sexual harassment at workplace along with two other legislations without debate.

The bill, pending before the house since 2010, had underwent drastic changes because of the pressure from women groups and critical review by the parliamentary standing committee. The women and child welfare minister Krishna Tirath, who piloted the bill had to move as many as 39 official amendments.

The most significant amendment in the bill is to cover “domestic workers” employed full-time, part-time or temporarily for household work, who were excluded from the purview of the original bill on the ground that it would be difficult to create a redressal mechanism for complaints of their sexual harassment.

Another important amendment is to define sexual harassment, which was missing in the original bill brought in 2010. The bill now says “sexual harassment” includes any unwelcome act or behaviour directly or by implication of physical contact and advances, or a demand or request for sexual favours, or making sexually coloured remarks or showing pornography or any other unwelcome physical, verbal or non-verbal conduct of a sexual nature.

Another bill passed by the house was the North-Eastern Areas (Reorganisation) Amendment Bill. Social welfare minister Mukul Wasnik introduced another key bill for prohibition of employment as manual scavengers and rehabilitation of such scavengers and their families.

In the Rajya Sabha, the government tried, after two adjournments, to push the All-India Institute of Medical Sciences (Amendment) Bill for setting up institutes alike Delhi’s AIIMS that was passed without debate in the Lok Sabha last week. However, CPM’s P Rajeev and CPI member D Raja protested that such an important legislation should not be passed without debate. Subsequently, deputy chairman Prof. PJ Kurien decided to call it a day adjourning the House for the day.

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