MUMBAI: The state women’s panel on Thursday asked the state BJP president to take action against the party’s Kalyan-Dombivli MLA and others for humiliating and mentally harassing a party woman corporator.The commission’s inquiry panel found her complaint about them circulating “sexually-coloured comments” to humiliate her valid and said it amounts to “sexual harassment at workplace under the Sexual Harassment Act of 2013″.Maharashtra State Women’s Commission chairperson Susieben Shah said political parties must frame sexual harassment policies to preserve women’s dignity at party offices as those are their workplaces. In the letter to Devendra Fadnavis, she pointed out that the corporator had to approach the panel as parties had not heeded her earlier note on sexual harassment policies.Archana Kothawade, the 39-year-old BJP corporator from Dombivli, had accused Ravindra Chauhan, the MLA who is a man of “considerable means and influence” and others from the party and three corporators from the Shiv Sena (the BJP and Sena are in an alliance in the state) of “humiliation, defamation and electronically circulating sexually-coloured comments to cause humiliation at the workplace”.She claimed they spread canards about her, and forced her teenaged son, an engineering student in Nashik, to file a false complaint that she’d been abducted, brought him to Kalyan and confined him for a night in a hotel two days before his exam.“I had to go to the women’s commission for justice as my earlier attempts to take up the matter within the party were futile. I was shocked at the way they forcibly got my son from Nashik to Kalyan and harassed him,” she told TOI. MLA Chauhan did not respond to calls and text messages.After her complaint, a panel of activist-advocate Flavia Agnes, lawyer Nilanjana Shah and Shalaka Salvi, the BJP Mumbai women’s wing president, was set up for inquiry. In eight hearings from June to August, it heard 14 witnesses, the MLA and a few others, but the Sena corporators did not show up.It concluded that the “conduct of the MLA and others amounted to violation of a woman’s dignity and safety, and deprivation of her rights”, besides “sexual harassment at workplace under the Sexual Harassment Act of 2013″. The panel added that the remarks caused public humiliation and mental trauma to the complainant.
This article originally appeared in Times of India. Click here to read the original article.