Mumbai, Feb 28 The Bombay High Court today said that the Maharashtra government must conduct special drives in schools to raise awareness about sexual harassment.
A bench of justices Naresh Patil and G S Kulkarni said such drives must be conducted for students of class 5 onwards to increase their awareness on topics such as "healthy relationships, sexual harassment etc".
The directions came after the Maharashtra State Commission for Women told the high court that it had been conducting periodic drives in colleges, and state government offices, to create awareness and prevent incidents of sexual harassment at the workplace.
"Ensure that your drives and programmes also include men as participants. For often, men are the perpetrators in cases of domestic violence and such cases. So, you must invite men- sons, fathers, and husbands- to participate in your drives so that they understand how they should behave," the bench said.
"Also conduct drives for school children and young adults from classes 5 onwards to ensure that they grow up into civilised adults. They must understand the meaning of a healthy relationship, they must be aware of incidents of sexual harassment, and they must know how to behave," the bench said.
The directions came while the bench was hearing a Public Interest Litigation filed by activist Vihar Durve.
In the plea filed through advocate Narayan Bubna, Durve had sought, among other things, that the commission be directed to fill up all its vacancies, that it open branches in smaller districts and rural areas across the state to ensure easy accessibility for women.
The high court had also suggested, in a previous hearing, that the commission think about starting online registration of complaints so that women from across the state did not need to travel all the way to Mumbai to lodge a complaint.
Today, the commission told the high court that it will consider the court's suggestions and said it had also ratified the vacancies in its service roster on February 23 and the same would be filled up at the earliest.
The commission's member secretary incharge, Manjusha Molwane, told the bench that the commission was also conducting various special drives to initiate awareness among women and to encourage them to come forward and register complaints and seek aid.
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