Sex harassment complaints should be allowed even 10-15 years later, Union Minister Maneka Gandhi has said in the middle of a Me Too movement in India that has seen more and more women sharing their experiences on social media.
“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,” Maneka Gandhi, the Women and Child Development Minister, said on Monday.
“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,” she said, adding that “anger at sexual molestation never goes away”.
The minister said she was happy that a Me Too campaign had started, but hoped it “won’t go out of control in the sense that we target people who’ve offended us in some way.”
The current law says any offence, including child abuse, which can lead to a prison term of three years, has to be reported within three years of the incident. A court may take note of an older case if it is in the “interest of justice” or if the “delay has been properly explained”.
Victims of child sexual abuse often face problems in registering an FIR once they are 18. The minister had suggested that such victims be allowed to register complaints until they are 30.
The allegations began with former actor Tanushree Dutta accusing veteran Nana Patekar of harassing her on the sets of a film 10 years ago.
It set off a roaring debate on social media, and a thread on Twitter became a forum for #MeToo stories from various fields, sparing no one – film personalities, writers, journalists and entertainers.
Last week, stand-up comic Utsav Chakraborty was called out by women. Over the weekend, the list grew to include author Chetan Bhagat and actor Rajat Kapoor, both of whom have apologized.
The global #MeToo movement emerged about a year ago after allegations against powerful Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein encouraged many women – and men – to come out with their experience of being exploited or attacked sexually.