Believe Women Saying #MeToo, Panel Will Look Into Issue of Harassment: Maneka Gandhi

"I believe in all of them. I believe in the pain and trauma behind every single complainant," the Union minister for women and child development said.

New Delhi: Union minister for women and child development Maneka Gandhi said on Friday that she believes in all the women who have come out with complaints of sexual harassment during the #MeToo movement, and will be putting together a committee to look into complaints and the mechanisms that exist for dealing with them.

“I believe in all of them. I believe in the pain and trauma behind every single complainant. I am proposing to set up a committee with senior judicial and legal persons as members to look into all issues emanating from the #MeToo campaign,” she said in an interview to PTI.

The committee will look into the legal and institutional framework which is in place for handling complaints of sexual harassment, including some of the complaints if required, and advise the ministry on how to strengthen these, she said.

Also read: #MeToo: An Open Letter From the Invisible Women Reporters of the Hinterland

In an official statement, Gandhi has also urged women to register complaints in cases of sexual harassment.

On Monday, Gandhi had already expressed support for the #MeToo movement, and said that woman should file complaints against harassers even in 10-15-year-old cases. “You will always remember the person who did it, which is why we have written to the Law Ministry that complaints should be without any time limit,” she said. “You can now complain 10-15 years later, doesn’t matter how much later. If you’re going to complain the avenue is still open.”

Also read: M.J. Akbar, Minister and Former Editor, Sexually Harassed and Molested Me

While people from across sectors – Bollywood, the media, advertising, comedy, etc. – have been named by numerous women in the last few days, the Narendra Modi government too has been in the limelight. Union minister of state for external affairs M.J. Akbar has been accused by at least nine women of sexually harassing and molesting them during his time as a journalist.

Other than Gandhi, only one other Union minister – Smriti Irani – has spoken out about the #MeToo movement so far. She said on Friday that “Women go to work to live their dreams and earn a respectable living. More and more women are winning support. I feel there are enough instruments to deliver justice. Hope these women get justice.”