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#MeToo effect: Congress youth wing to set up panel to probe harassment complaints

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Move by the Indian Youth Congress comes after a member of its student wing NSUI accused its president Fairoz Khan of sexual harassment.

New Delhi: In a first-of-its-kind initiative for a political party, the Congress’ youth wing — the Indian Youth Congress — has decided to set up an internal complaints committee (ICC) based on the Vishaka Guidelines to deal with allegations of harassment by women members.

The move comes weeks after Fairoz Khan, president of NSUI, the Congress’ students wing, was accused of sexual harassment by a party worker in Chhattisgarh.

“The voice of women is now rising as one can see in the MeToo concept. In our own political wing we are going to set up a body where we can take action against complaints made by the women members,” Youth Congress spokesperson Amrish Pandey told ThePrint.

The woman party worker who complained against Khan had met Congress president Rahul Gandhi and other senior party leaders and demanded action against him. Finally, Khan stepped down from his position.

She also filed a complaint at the Parliament Street Police Station fearing for her life. The Congress had set up a three-member committee to probe the complaint, which is yet to give its report.

Also read: NSUI president Fairoz Khan quits over sexual harassment charges

Panel to be headed by a woman

The ICC will be headed by a woman and half of its members will be women, as per the Vishaka Guidelines. To pre-empt any undue pressure or influence from senior levels, such a committee has to involve a third party, either an NGO or some other body, which is familiar with the issue of sexual harassment.

The Youth Congress is in the process of finalising the chairperson and members of the eight-member committee.

The ICC will provide a “platform” for the women office-bearers to complain about “any untoward incident”, said Youth Congress vice-president B.V. Srinivas.

Also read: Tavleen Singh takes on #MeToo supporters, explains why she isn’t on the same page

The Youth Congress had hit the streets last month, demanding the resignation of junior external affairs minister M.J. Akbar in the wake of #MeToo movement. More than 20 journalists had alleged that Akbar sexually harassed them when he was an editor.

Akbar was compelled to quit under mounting public pressure. Congress leaders have been raking up the issue to counter the BJP’s claims of the NDA government taking a series of steps towards ensuring gender justice.

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