#India – Sexual harassment claim rocks National University of Juridical Sciences #Vaw


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, TNN | Jun 20, 2013,

KOLKATA: The West Bengal National University of Juridical Sciences (NUJS), one of the country’s top law schools, has been rocked by a complaint of sexual harassment a week ahead of admission season.

A member of the vice-chancellor’s secretariat has brought charges of sexual harassment against a senior employee in the registrar’s department. The victim has alleged in written complaints to the VC and registrar that she has been receiving lewd e-mails and objectionable proposals from the accused. The harassment had allegedly been going on for over a year and the young woman had earlier verbally complained to the administration, but no action was taken. When she brought up the matter again with the registrar last week, he advised her to submit a written complaint.

Acting on the complaint, the university has set up a committee to investigate the case. The accused has been sent on leave. Two senior faculty members, a senior non-teaching staff and a teacher of Jadavpur University English department are members of the committee.

The accused, who has been with the NUJS for over a decade, called up TOI on Wednesday to say he had already resigned. “I have been framed. There is no truth in the accusation. There is a huge communication gap. In any case, I have resigned,” he said.

Registrar Surajit Mukhopadhyay, however, said he is yet to receive any such resignation.

“We have received a written complaint of sexual harassment and stalking from the victim and it has been forwarded to the committee for investigation. This is the first time that such a controversy has happened in the university and we have taken very serious note of the matter. If the accused is proved guilty, strictest action according to the law of the land will be taken,” Mukhopadhyay said.

Vice-chancellor Ishwar Bhatt assured that NUJS would do everything “to uphold the dignity” of the lady. “We are dealing with the complaint in the strictest terms. The accused is on leave andyes, he called me up to say he will resign,” he said.

Even as the NUJS campus was abuzz with the sexual harassment complaint, another controversy erupted when a final-year student was slapped in full view of others by a lady teacher. The student, who reached late for an exam, was stopped from entering the hall and asked by the teacher to first take permission from the VC. She argued that since she was just 15 minutes late she should be let in. This led to a heated exchange and the angry teacher slapped her.

Later, the VC intervened and the girl was taken to another room and given half an hour extra to write her test.

A committee set up to investigate the matter sent its report to the executive council which ruled that the faculty member be reprimanded for losing her temper. “We have tried to handle the incident in a very sensitive way, with full sympathies for the girl,” registrar Surajit Mukhopadhyay said.

 

#India – Sexual Harassment at Workplace #Vaw #Womenrights #mustread


Workplace Sexual Harassment

The Way Things Are

Vol – XLVIII No. 24, June 15, 2013 | Naina Kapur , EPW
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Sixteen years after the landmark Vishaka case judgment of the Supreme Court, the government introduced in the Lok Sabha in September 2012 a defective Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Bill. The Act, as it stands, has failed to draw on the extensive research on sexual harassment that has been done in this country and elsewhere. Further, its inaccurate phrasing of workplace sexual harassment and mismatches between subheadings and content of the text eclipses the most common forms of workplace sexual harassment.

Naina Kapur (naina.kapur@gmail.com) is an advocate who pioneered the Vishaka directions on workplace sexual harassment.

Before 1997, “sexual harassment” had never settled into the Indian legal lexicon. We were instead saddled with an archaic Victorian template which criminalised “outraging or insulting” a “woman’s modesty”. It made us pretend that we had it all covered. But we never did. Unwelcome words, gestures, images, language, and all those subtle intangibles which sexually violate a woman, were comfortably woven into the pattern of life rather than the fabric of law. It all became a silent and acceptable part of “the way things are”.

Bhanwari Case

It was not until the 1990s that the sexual torment endured by a rural level change agent in Rajasthan and her subsequent determination to challenge what led to her violation gave rise to a long overdue common-sense approach to what needed to change. It was us. Sexual harassment hit the Indian legal map when Bhanwari, a saathin in Rajasthan, prevented the child marriage within an upper caste community. In doing so she was subjected to unwelcome sexual harassment through words and gestures from men of that community. When she reported the harassment, the local authority did nothing. That omission was at great cost to Bhanwari – she was subsequently gang-raped by those very men.

Surprisingly, nationwide calls for justice hovered around demands for a stringent criminal law response, i e, the filing of a first information report (FIR). With a history of failures by the criminal justice system to stem the pandemic of violence towards women, such demands appeared futile. At the risk of offending purists of criminal law, it has always struck me as somewhat offensive that a breach of criminal law is effectively treated as a crime against the state. Each FIR becomes the pursuit of a culprit by the police for a harm which the “State” has endured. At most the complainant woman is only ever a witness.

Bhanwari’s experience invited us to change that pattern. Rather than perceive sexual harassment in the home, on the street, at work or in accessing justice as individual personal injuries, we needed to experience it as a constitutional concern. The microcosmic commonality of Bhanwari’s experience of sexual harassment mirrored what scores of working Indian women faced in India – everyday, everywhere, all the time. In the absence of any existing legal response to “sexual harassment”, the opportunity was ripe for a comprehensive approach. In 1992, therefore, we approached the Supreme Court of India in a public interest litigation to do precisely that – rethink “the way things are”.

Sexual Harassment at Work

Sexual harassment was a form of discriminatory conduct at the workplace. It hampered women’s constitutional rights to equality and dignity. It sabotaged work performance, affected working environments, impaired women’s progress, resulted in absenteeism and cost both individuals and institutions in terms of qualitative health and growth. The statistics of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) reveal how 55% of women from the ages of 14 to 55 in Italy have been subjected to sexual harassment (2004); sexual harassment in the United States army has cost close to $250 million (1999 survey); 40 to 50% of women in the European Union have faced some form of sexual harassment; and a 2002 survey by Sakshi (a non-governmental organisation) of 2,000 persons across workplaces found 80% acknowledging that workplace sexual harassment existed in India.

Statistics apart, constitutional equality was never the lens through which we viewed women’s experience of sexual harm at work. It took that rare creative courage of a judge, the late Justice J S Verma (then chief justice of India) to rise to the occasion and in 1997 we were given Vishaka vs State of Rajasthan. Unlike anything before it, Vishaka was a visionary decision. Primarily, it filled a legal vacuum. Second, it viewed sexual harassment through an equality lens and thus prioritised prevention. Third, in the absence of legislation, it became legally binding on all workplaces. Unlike the criminal law, it was the State, the employer, and the institution that had to own up for the equality and dignity of women at work.

Finally, it gave us a map for creating accountability. Workplaces, organisations, institutions (including educational establishments) were compelled to raise awareness about sexual harassment, take steps to prevent it and to offer effective redress. We sought and were granted the presence of a third party expert on complaints committees for sexual harassment, a mechanism mandated by Vishaka for all workplaces.

It was an innovative moment in the history of women’s constitutional rights within all workplaces. That is what a visionary approach does for people’s rights. It expands and uplifts them through an inclusive process. Vishaka changed the map of how we could respond to other forms of violence against women. Unfortunately, the moment and momentum was frittered away by a state unable and unwilling to adhere to the bar Vishaka had set. Despite the Government of India’s own ratification of Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), the women’s convention which promised to uphold the equality rights of women in all aspects of life, its commitment rang hollow. Added to this was increased public immunity to the daily sexual exploitation of women who never took adequate notice of what Vishaka had to offer.

‘To Do Something’

Still, Vishaka made it impossible for us to slip back to the way things are. It gave us language. Women’s experience of unwelcome sexual conduct was no longer a patronising moral transgression of her ”modesty”, it was sexual harassment – a violation of her constitutional equality.

Sixteen years post the landmark judgment, the Government of India introduced a new bill. Such delay might have been justified had excellence and improving on Vishaka been the goal. In reality, the state simply awoke from its lengthy slumber to “do something”. Amidst the din of the coal block allocations scam in the Lok Sabha, a defective Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Bill was allowed to pass into law without debate in September 2012. Before the Rajya Sabha, a feebler introduction was made by the minister whose “vision” suggested that it was a bill “to make them economically empowered so that they can do their work properly” – a condescending preface to constitutional equality which was the backbone of the Vishaka judgment. Adding insult to injury, nowhere does the debate find mention of constitutional equality.

Apart from the statement of objects, there is little in the language and content of the new Act which has continued to raise the bar, let alone retain the spirit of Vishaka. An itemised definition of what constitutes “workplace” might have been more easily stated as any place where a woman is present by virtue of her work – a suggestion supported by many at a consultation held in the presence of parliamentary standing committee members. Educational institutes have complained that the definition does not go far enough to include students who, while not workers, frequently suffer coercive sexual harassment on campus or otherwise linked to their educational growth, a concern endorsed by the Justice Verma Committee. Such institutes will need to adopt a creative approach to ensure students are covered. Extensive cross-country research carried out for the Vishaka hearings provided contemporary approaches to the definition and a road map for preventing workplace sexual harassment.

Use of such knowledge was scarcely evident in crafting the latest Act. Inaccurate phrasing (a trait which characterises much of the Act) of hostile workplace sexual harassment eclipses the relevance of the most common forms of workplace sexual harassment. Mismatches between subheadings and content compound that perception. A section titled “Prevention of Sexual Harassment”, for instance, fails to deliver on anything related to preventive measures. Instead, the section highlights “circumstances” which may amount to sexual harassment. Such glaring oversight betrays an abysmal lack of homework by the legislative draughtsperson and ignorance about the issue by parliamentary representatives across the political spectrum.

Diluted Version of Vishaka

As for the internal and local complaint committees now mandated under the Act in all workplaces, political understanding of what was intended to be an inclusive and informed redress mechanism simply is not there. Diluting third party presence on these committees to persons committed to “the cause of women” demeans the skill and specialisation required to meet the nuances of workplace sexual harassment. In a recent example, a lawyer committed to the “cause of women” was inducted into a government department complaints committee. Post the proceedings, my office was contacted by the department for a follow-up. Amazingly, the record revealed how the person accused of sexual harassment was allowed to openly question the complainant as part of the committee proceedings – a fundamental violation of the non-intimidation principle designed to protect complainants from just such practices. Third party persons (lawyers or not) must bring knowledge, skill and capacity to the table to ensure processes are professionally informed and unbiased. Vishaka envisaged an inclusive complaints committee to build ownership of the issue, ensure fair treatment and enhance knowledge and experience around workplace sexual harassment.

Of all sections, the most disturbing provision in the Act (Section 14) is one which punishes a “false or malicious complaint”. Such inventions are only ever peculiar to gender-specific legislations which relate to women and violence. In no other area of law do such penalty clauses exist as a matter of practice. Its presence in the new Act has no legal basis.

Investigations (and this is true of any law) are designed to determine whether a harm occurred or not. That is it. To premise an Act on the assumption that women are potential liars about their human rights abuses reeks of stereotyping women and for that reason would be constitutionally untenable. Flawed drafting further amplifies the lack of political seriousness towards socially relevant legislation for women. The “false” charges section provides that “mere” inability to substantiate a complaint or provide adequate proof “need not” attract action against the complainant, but does not enlighten us on what “need not” means. Does it imply that if a complaint does not succeed, it “ought not to but still might” attract action for false charges?

The absence of user-friendly, unambiguous and accessible language throughout the new Act renders it prone to typical gender stereotyping in such cases. In all consultations on the bill, this retrograde provision was rejected outright. To foist it into the legislation can only be perceived as an attempt to discourage women from making complaints of sexual harassment.

In the 16 years since Vishaka, progressive developments have taken place in international guidelines and practices on workplace sexual harassment. Prescribing “duties” under the new Act as a way to compel employers to prevent sexual harassment runs contrary to contemporary human rights emphasis on promoting “responsibilities”. It is the difference between what employers feel obliged to do (and hence resist and scuttle) from what they would responsibly own and do (and hence, be proud of).

Clearly, the absence of urgency and enhanced vision has given us a diluted version of Vishaka. Dilution is what traditionally allows sexually inappropriate conduct to fester, spread and eventually escalate into rape in the first place. That is how it all began in Bhanwari’s case. For that reason, a 16-year wait offers no excuse for not getting a law that mirrored global standards of excellence and understanding in systemically tackling workplace sexual harassment.

At the same time, legislation, flawed or otherwise, cannot excuse us from implementing change, one which calls upon our own willingness to connect the dots. At most, legislation has reignited attention towards the plague of workplace sexual harassment. Owning the constitutional subtext to make it work is our job. Unexpected but welcome initiatives have begun to dot the landscape even pre-legislation. A recent award by the industrial tribunal in West Bengal offers an unusually credible direction in the sexual harassment case of senior journalist Rina Mukherjee against The Statesman.

Rina Mukherjee vs The Statesman

Within six months of joining The Statesman, Rina Mukerhjee lost her job. While the company alleged that her work was “tardy” and “lacking in quality”, it suppressed Rina’s complaint of sexual harassment against the news coordinator, Ishan Joshi. Within her first month of work, Rina had taken her complaint directly to the managing director (MD), Ravinder Kumar. Understandably, she expected him to act professionally and intervene, but time passed and nothing happened. Exploiting her status as a probationer, Rina was fired by The Statesman.

Such patterns are common to organisations who fail to see the importance of promoting a workplace free from sexual harassment. Frequently, a woman on probation will find it impossible to make a complaint, let alone succeed with one. Hence, most women hesitate and tolerate the behaviour. Rina was an exception. Post her termination she filed a formal complaint with the MD, The Statesman’s owner, C R Irani and the West Bengal Women’s Commission with the firm belief that her termination was a result of her sexual harassment complaint.

The matter was eventually heard by the Industrial Tribunal (West Bengal). In a rare display of social context, insight and clarity amongst the judiciary, judge Kundan Kumar Kumai, rejected The Statesman’s claim that Rina only referred to “professional” harassment in her complaint to Ravindra Kumar. In Kumai’s view, Kumar’s failure to dig deeper was clearly suspect. In the judge’s words:

He [Ravindra Kumar] never started any enquiry however discreet it may have been. Fairplay demanded at least an explanation from the senior executives as to why there was an allegation of professional harassment against them. Rather he has gone hammer and tongs over the delay made in making the sexual harassment public, in writing. What else could she have done… she made a verbal complaint of sexual harassment and professional harassment and she was dismissed from her service even without completion of her probation period.

It should also not be forgotten that the lady workman was not only well-educated but had about ten years of journalism, with other well known publications, behind her and not a novice or a rookie journalist, at that relevant time.

Moreover…it becomes clear that there was no Committee on sexual harassment, as per the Honb’le Supreme Court’s direction in Vishaka vs State of Rajasthan, existing in The Statesman, at that relevant time…to expect-the lady workman to file a written complaint and not to believe the same, when it has been filed ‘at a later date’ is sheer bias.

The Statesman was ordered to reinstate Rina and grant her full back wages from the time of her termination to the date of the order. It took 11 years but Rina won an order that dispels assumptions about why women take time to complain about sexual harassment, how those in power try through sheer numbers and gagged employees to dismiss such claims, and how workplaces can no longer take legal compliance on sexual harassment lightly. HadThe Statesman taken her complaint seriously at the outset and complied with Vishaka, the result could have been beneficial for all – for Rina, women workers, the workplace environment and inevitably the company’s reputation.

Conclusions

Repetition creates a life pattern. Enduring workplace conduct which sexually demeans, intimidates, offends, excludes and limits women is not only about the patterns of sexist behaviour, it is also about the repetitive nature of our own complacency. We have become immune to the pervasive harm of sexual harassment and its unconstitutional character.

People like judge Kumai, justice Verma, Bhanwari and Rina remind us that this need not be so. They inspire the rest of us who care, to use our carefully crafted skills, know-how and passion to innovate and transform the most ill-crafted provisions in law to work for us rather than limit us.

Sexual harassment need not be “the way things are”. It is up to us as political leaders, judges, responsible workplaces and individuals to change that pattern of thought. Having found its way onto our constitutional map for all to follow the direction and visibility of workplace sexual harassment will be determined by the men and women who understand the professional and human worth of speaking up. As frightening as that can be, it will enable us to own our constitutional equality not has some elusive right we should continue to aspire for, but as something we can live, experience and embrace everyday. That is not the way things are, that is the way things should be.

 

 

Phaneesh Murthy saga: Why insurers should refuse to cover serial offenders of sexual harassment #Womenrights


 SUCHETA DALAL | 23/05/2013

If you work in risky jobs or have a medical condition, you pay a higher premium. Some people are even denied insurance. Shouldn’t insurers refuse to cover serial offenders of sexual-harassment too? This may help women get a fairer treatment in companies

When iGate hired and helped rehabilitate Phaneesh Murthy, the disgraced marketing whiz kid, this is what Ashok Trivedi, its founder, had to say. “For us, this deal is like getting Babe Ruth and the whole Yankees team at the same time. Not only do we get Phaneesh and the crackerjack team of Quintant but we also get to add their expertise in the BSP domain to our fast growing BPO business”. Of course, he did not have a word to say about Murthy’s serial misbehaviour with women employees, while he was a star, the blue-eyed boy at Infosys, and how iGate planned to contain a similar damage to itself.
Ten years later, iGate may have sacked its “Babe Ruth” but it still faces the prospect of an expensive lawsuit or settlement with its former employee, on account of Murthy’s uncontrolled peccadilloes. And while iGate may have celebrated its entry into the billion dollar IT club by gifting Phaneesh Murthy a Ferrari, it is now left to handle the assimilation of Patni Computers merger, without its star player.
What we are keen on watching is how insurance companies react to this. Consider this. If you declare that you have diabetes or an angioplasty in your medical insurance form, your insurance cover shoots up. Airline and shipping companies pay a significantly higher premium because they operate in risky professions. Shouldn’t the same hold true when companies hire senior executives accused of sexual harassment or try and brush the problem under the carpet by sacking the women who complained?
Let’s take a look at all the things iGate ignored when it hired Phaneesh Murthy with much fanfare.
• The last time around, Murthy accused Reka Maximovitch of being a “gold digger” but it turned out that she had to take a restraining order against him that Infosys was blissfully unaware of. This time he is accusing his former girlfriend of ‘extortion’, but media reports say she is pregnant with his child and he was forcing her to abort it and quietly leave the company. Her action was probably provoked by this fact and is bound to cost iGate. It is incredible that the board had no clue what was going on after having hired a CEO with a reputation for sexual harassment.
• In 2003, Phaneesh Murthy made nasty innuendos about having sent Infosys a legal notice about vested stock options; he also suggested he wanted to fight the case but had his lies nailed with a point-by-point rebuttal by Infosys. He agreed to a $3million settlement in the Rexa Maximovitch.
• Not only this, there is another $800,000 paid by Infosys and the insurance company to another ex-Infosys employee, Jennifer Griffith, in a similar settlement. Murthy reportedly got away without paying anything.
This brings us to the issue of the Directors & Officers liability cover that companies take to protect themselves from charges against key employees. The question is simple: Will insurers cover top executives who are hired despite having paid/settled sexual harassment charges? If insurers do not impose conditions about serial offenders like Phaneesh Murthy, then their shareholders ought to be asking some tough questions.
In the US, companies tend to settle, rather than avoid expensive lawsuits which are also extremely damaging to their reputation as employers. After all, no good employer wants to be seen protecting those accused of sexual harassment. In India it is still the opposite. In fact, consulting companies that preach good governance and offer consultancy for a fat fee are among the worst offenders.
A lot of people are fully aware of the dogged fight that a smart chartered accountant has been fighting for a decade against KPMG. The company let go of the accused senior partner only in the past few months after the Delhi gang-rape and the Justice Varma committee report made it clear that middle-class India, which forms the bulk of employees in information technology companies, is no longer tolerant about sexual harassment in the workplace or outside.
As Moneylife reported yesterday, the demand for Directors  & Officers liability policies is still low in India and these policies are don’t necessarily cover sexual harassment explicitly. So far, companies are careful about their liability only when it comes to international operations. It is routine in India to sack women employees who dare to speak up. Even in the few cases where action is initiated against senior employees, the victim gets nothing and organisations go out of their way to protect the employee by hiding details about their sacking.
Worse, companies usually give such employees the option to resign which leave no negative record and allows the employee to seek employment elsewhere. Indian companies are big beneficiaries of the slow legal system and their clout. The charteredaccountant who dared to speak out against her boss, had her reputation dragged through the mud, faced vile posts on the internet and had faced every dirty trick in the book that delayed and blocked investigation. At the same time, the company forked out large sums of money to buy out lawyers or hire the most expensive legal brains in the country to harass the victim.
In fact, this global consulting company’s tactics have become a shining example of why smart women, who are concerned about career progress, would prefer to switch jobs rather than complain about sexual harassment. Unfortunately for Indian women, the legal system has let down career women so far. If complaining about sexual harassment puts an end to your career and leads to several decades of humiliating legal battles, it is no choice at all. Worse, sexual harassment remains rampant and unspoken in the three places that ought to lead the battle against sexual harassment—the Supreme Court, the media and politics. There is a conspiracy of silence when it comes to the transgression of senior politicians, editors, advocates and lawyers—how can women expect justice in this scenario? At least, if insurance for these situations is really costly, or if there is no insurance available for serial offenders of sexual harassment, it will check the malaise while we still wait for a systemic cure.

 

iGATE terminates employment of CEO Phaneesh Murthy on sexual misconduct charges #Vaw


ET Bureau May 21, 2013
(This is the second time Murthy…)

BANGALORE: Nasdaq-listed iGATE Corporation announced that its board of directors has terminated the employment ofpresident and chief executive officer Phaneesh Murthy as a result of an investigation of the facts and circumstances surrounding a relationship that Murthy had with a subordinate employee and a claim of sexual harassment.

The Board has appointed Gerhard Watzinger as President and CEO on an interim basis.

“The investigation, which is ongoing, has reached the finding that Murthy’s failure to report this relationship violated iGATE’s policy, as well as Murthy’s employment contract,” company said in a statement. “The investigation has not uncovered any violation of iGATE’s harassment policy.”

A former head of sales at India’s second largest software exporter Infosys, this is the second time Murthy is getting entangled in a sexual harassment case involving another employee of the same organization. Earlier in 2003, Murthy faced a sexual harassment lawsuit filed by his former executive secretary at Infosys Reka Maximovitch. Maximovitch had complained of sexual harassment and wrongful termination of employment. Infosys, settled the lawsuit out of court for $3 million.

Co-founder and co-chairman Sunil Wadhwani said that the board “deliberated extensively” on the matter

“We recognize the significant contributions Mr. Murthy has provided over the past ten years in helping to establish iGATE as a leader in the IT industry. He has worked hard to improve the value of iGATE, and we greatly appreciate his efforts. However, as a result of this violation of iGATE policy, we asked Mr. Murthy to step down,” Wadhwani said.

The other co-founder and co-chairman Ashok Trivedi said that Murthy’s departure was not related in any way to the company’s operational or financial performance.

Gerhard Watzinger, age 52, has previously worked at iGATE from 1998 to 2003 in a number of roles, including CEO of the iGATE Solutions business. Watzinger returns to iGATE from security software-maker now owned by Intel chip-maker McAfee, where he was EVP and Chief Strategy Officer.

Wadhwani and Trivedi will work closely with Watzinger during his tenure as interim president and CEO to ensure a seamless transition.

A Search Committee within the Board of Directors has been created, which will oversee the process for the identification and selection of a new president and CEO. Watzinger has taken himself out of consideration but he will serve until the selection process is complete.

iGate does not expect to make any additional structural or executive leadership changes in the near future.

 

Sexual harassment of girls forces 6 Haryana Villages to stop them sending to schools #Vaw #WTFnew


NHRC notice to Haryana Chief Secretary and DGP.

New Delhi, 17th May, 2013

The National Human Rights Commission has taken suo motu cognizance of a media report that 6 Village Panchayats of Mahendergarh District in Haryana unanimously decided not to send girls to schools from 13th May, 2013, owing to alleged inaction by police and school authorities in ensuring their safety. The names of Villages are Pal, Gadania, Kherki, Nihalawas, Kuksi and Palah. Reportedly, the decision was to affect 400 girls students.
The Panchayat Members expressed deep concern over the safety and security of the girls in the wake of increasing instances of sexual harassment. The media report also mentioned two specific incidents of harassment of teenaged girls in the recent past. The neighbouring District Rewari had also witnessed a similar situation a few months ago when around 50 girls were stopped from attending schools.
The Commission has observed that the content of the press report, if true, raise a serious issue of violation of human rights of the girl students. Notices have been issued to the Chief Secretary and DGP, Haryana calling for reports within four weeks.
They have also been directed to inform the Commission of the details of incidents of sexual harassment of teenaged girls that might have taken place in Haryana during the last 3 months and, particularly, in the 6 Villages referred to in the press report alongwith the preventive action, if any, taken by the Administration in this regard.

 

Indore woman professor terminated for lodging Sexual Harrassment complaint #Vaw #WTFnews


TNN | May 10, 2013, 03.18 AM IST

INDORE: The complainant of alleged sexual harassment reported in the Indian Institute of Management, Indore (IIM-I) has been terminated from the post. The decision was taken after the report was tabled by the gender sensitivity committee recently.

Sources said, the woman professor was terminated on the grounds of administrative action. However, various people have raised fingers over the quick termination of the faculty member. “The woman was terminated without being served any notice or charge-sheet. How can a complainant in such a serious case sacked?” quipped a source.

On the other hand, the institute authorities, like in the past, are tightlipped over the issue. The institute has not revealed the finding of the newly established gender sensitivity committee. IIM-I, director, N Ravichandran refused to comment on the issue. “No comments,” he said.

The lady professor of the marketing department had lodged a complaint in February last week with the gender sensitivity committee. She had also expressed her mistrust on the committee to the IIM-I board chairman K V Kamath. Later, a fresh committee was constituted, which had tabled its report recently.

 

#India – Download the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act #Vaw


Ink pink... Bullies stink!

 

The New Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act   came into effect on April 23, 2013.

 

Under the Act, employers’ organisations must have mechanisms to address complaints of sexual harassment, and deal with such complaints within 90 days. Non-compliance of the law is punishable by a fine, and repeated non-compliance can lead to higher penalties and cancellation of the employer’s licence to conduct business.

 

The law comes 15 years after the Supreme Court’s historic Vishakha judgment in 1997.

 

The Vishakha judgment was incorporated into the Central Civil Services(Conduct) Rules, 1964 and the The Industrial Employment (Standing Orders) Rules, following the 1999 order on the Medha Kotwal case.

 

Download the Act here

 

 

 

#India – Sexual Harassment at Workplace Bill becomes Law #Vaw #Womenrights


26 Apr 2013, 01:44 PM
Law to curb sexual harassment at work

Law to curb sexual harassment at work

 

New Delhi: President Pranab Mukherjee has given his assent to a bill under which cases of sexual harassment at workplace, including against domestic help, will have to be disposed of by in-house committees within 90 days failing which a penalty will be imposed.

Repeated non-compliance of the provisions of the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Law, can lead to higher penalties and even cancellation of licence or registration to conduct business.

The bill was cleared by Parliament in February this year.

The new law brings in its ambit even domestic workers and agriculture labour, both organized and unorganized sectors.

As per the act, sexual harassment includes any one or more of unwelcome acts or behaviour like physical contact and advances, a demand or request for sexual favours or making sexually coloured remarks or showing pornography.

Non-compliance with the provisions of the act shall be punishable with a fine of up to Rs 50,000. It has also provisions for safeguard against false or malicious charges.

A Parliamentary Standing Committee, which had examined the bill, had held the firm view that preventive aspects reflected in it has to be strictly in line with the Supreme Court guidelines in the 1997 Vishaka case.

The Apex Court‘s judgement in the case not only defines sexual harassment at workplace but also lays down guidelines for its prevention and disciplinary action

 

Delhi HC issues notice to Prasar Bharati CEO on AIR #sexualharassment case #Vaw


RnM Team    03 Apr 13
image

MUMBAI: As the alleged sexual harassment case of women employees at All India Radio (AIR) reaches new heights, the Delhi High Court has issued a notice to the centre and Prasar Bharati CEO on a PIL seeking steps to ‘stop the sexual harassment and exploitation’ of female radio presenters at the FM Gold channel of AIR.

Issuing notices to Ministry of Information and Broadcasting and CEO of Prasar Bharti, a division bench of Chief Justice D Murugesan and Justice V K Jain sought response from them on the issue by 15 May.

The PIL filed by social worker Meera Mishra stated that she came to know of the sexual harassment of employees of the FM channel through media reports. The PIL mentions this complaint, adding that the AIRBPA plans to file a similar complaint with the National Commission for Women (NCW).

The plea was filed by advocate Sugriv Dubey who said that though these employees have been working with the channel for more than 15 years, they are sexually harassed and their services sometimes terminated without assigning any reason.

The PIL mentioned, “Female workers working under the control of respondents (I&B Ministry, Prasar Bharti) are being regularly either harassed or terminated from employment and those workers do not have the capacity to approach the court. Their right is being evaded and no one is there to stop the sexual harassment of these employees.”

The petition demanded that ‘strong measures’ should be taken by the central government and Prasar Bharti to stop the sexual discrimination, exploitation and harassment taking place in the offices of AIR throughout the country.

It said ‘adequate measures’ to ensure the safety of the women employees on night shifts were not being taken by the department.

The PIL prayed the court to direct the centre and Prasar Bharti to formulate concrete policies and guidelines in respect of the service conditions and other protections as required to female workers by the department.

It also asked that Prasar Bharti should implement the Vishakha Guidelines laid down by the Supreme Court pertaining to sexual harassment at the workplace, and sought that the ministry set up a committee to investigate all allegations of sexual misconduct.

As reported by Radioandmusic.com earlier, the All India Radio Broadcasting Professionals Association (AIRBPA) had filed a complaint with the Delhi Commission for Women stating that they were facing sexual harassment at AIR’s FM Gold. The complaint alleged unprofessional behaviour by the programme executives at the radio station, and specifically named FM Gold director general Leeladhar Mandloi for ‘attacking the self respect’ of the women presenters.

The AIRBPA has also stated that the staff on duty was sometimes intoxicated and misbehaved with the women employees, ‘but officials of AIR are not bothered about it’.

Inspite of repeated attempts, AIR officials remained unavailable for comment at the time of filling the report.

 

Sun TV Sexual Harassment Case- Response from Women Journalists #Vaw


To,

The Board of Directors,

Sun TV Network Limited Corporate Office

Murasoli Maran Towers
73, MRC Nagar Main Road,  MRC Nagar,
Chennai – 600 028

30.03.2013

*Sub: Response to Mr J.Ravindran re. Sexual Harassment Case at Sun TV*

Dear Board of Directors,

This is in response to the e-mail dated 28.03.2013 sent to us by Mr. J.
Ravindran, counsel for Sun TV, in which he claims that the allegations
against the company in our press statement, *Eclipsing Women’s Rights:
Sexual Harassment at Sun TV –  NWMI demands immediate reinstatement of
Woman Journalist* dated 28.30.13, are “totally false and baseless”.

We would like to bring to your notice the following:

1.      The “Code of Conduct” of the Company demands “Strict compliance
with applicable laws, rules and regulations. The Board and the senior
management are expected to comply with all applicable laws, rules and
regulations in letter and spirit.” However, Sun TV Ltd. appears to have
blatantly flouted the orders of the highest court of the land, namely
the “Vishaka
Guidelines  against Sexual Harassment at Workplace Guidelines and norms
laid down by the Hon’ble Supreme Court in Vishaka and Ors Vs. State of
Rajasthan and Others (JT 1997 (7) SC 384) (hereinafter the ‘Vishaka
Guidelines’).

2.      According to the Vishaka Guidelines, which is the prevailing law of
the land, “Sexual Harassment” is defined as the following:

“ Sexual harassment includes such unwelcome sexually determined behaviour
(whether directly or by implication) as: a) Physical contact and advances;
b) A demand or request for sexual favours; c) Sexually coloured remarks; d)
Showing pornography; e) Any other unwelcome physical, verbal or non-verbal
conduct of sexual nature.

Where any of these acts is committed in circumstances where-under the
victim of such conduct has a reasonable apprehension that in relation to
the victim’s employment or work whether she is drawing salary, or
honorarium or voluntary, whether in government, public or private
enterprise, such conduct can be humiliating and may constitute a health and
safety problem. It is discriminatory, for instance, when the woman has
reasonable grounds to believe that her objection would disadvantage her in
connection with her employment or work, including recruiting or promotion,
or when it creates a hostile work environment. Adverse consequences might
be visited if the victim does not consent to the conduct in question or
raises any objection thereto.”

3.      The Vishaka Guidelines further state: “It shall be the duty of the
employer or other responsible persons in work places or other institutions
to prevent or deter the commission of acts of sexual harassment and to
provide the procedures for the resolution, settlement or prosecution of
acts, of sexual harassment by taking all steps required.”

There is no evidence that this requirement has been complied with at the
Sun TV. Neither were preventive steps taken to ensure a conducive
workplace, nor were procedures in place for the resolution and settlement
of acts of sexual harassment at the workplace. This is illegal and in
contempt of the Hon’ble Supreme Court.

4.      The Vishaka Guidelines require that “an appropriate complaint
mechanism should be created in the employer’s organisation for redress of
the complaint made by the victim. Such complaint mechanism should ensure
time bound treatment of complaints.”

According to our information, such a complaints mechanism is not in place
at Sun TV Network.

5.      According to the Vishaka Guidelines, “The said complaints mechanism
should provide, where necessary, a Complaints Committee, a special
counsellor or other  support service, including the maintenance of
confidentiality. It must be noted that the Complaints Committee should be
headed by a woman and not less than half of its member should be women.
Further, to prevent the possibility of any undue pressure or influence from
senior levels, such Complaints Committee should involve a third party,
either NGO or other body who is familiar with the issue of sexual
harassment.”

6.      The Hon’ble Supreme Court is fully cognisant of the vulnerable
position of complainants and witnesses in complaints of sexual harassment
filed against superiors, and therefore lays down that, “In particular, it
should ensure that victims or witnesses are not victimized or discriminated
against while dealing with complaints of sexual harassment.”

We find that this principle has not been complied with in the present case
involving Ms Akila, the complainant. Far from a fair redressal of her
complaint, she has been further victimised by placing her under suspension
on grounds of complaints from other women employees, which strains
credulity in a workplace which is reportedly hostile to women employees due
to the actions of senior management.

7.      In compliance with the law of the land, we demand that an
Independent Inquiry be constituted. Since there was no existing Complaints
Committee, the Independent Inquiry Committee must be set up on the
guidelines under Vishakha mentioned in Point 5 above.

8.      Ms. Akila should be reinstated and allowed to perform her duties in
a conducive work environment. Mr V. Raja and Mr Vetrivendan should remain
under suspension pending the Independent Inquiry to ensure that the Inquiry
is genuinely unbiased and conducted without undue pressure.

We believe that these steps, while compliant with the prevailing law,
might also contribute to the adherence of the Sun TV Code of Conduct to
“conduct the business of the Company in accordance with applicable laws,
rules, regulations, highest standards of business ethics and to detect and
prevent unethical conduct of business.”

Sincerely yours,

The Working Council,

On Behalf of the Network of Women in Media, India

1.      Ammu Joseph, Bangalore

2.      Kalpana Sharma, Mumbai

3.      Laxmi Murthy, Bangalore

4.      Rajashri Dasgupta, Kolkata

5.      Sandhya Taksale, Pune

6.      Sameera Khan, Mumbai

7.      Sharmila Joshi, Mumbai

8.      Ranjita Biswas, Kolkata

9.      Malti Mehta, Ahmedabad

10.  K.A. Beena, Thiruvananthapuram

11.  Sonal Kellogg, Delhi

12.  Parul Sharma, Delhi

13.  Padmalatha Ravi, Bangalore

14.  Melanie Priya Kumar, Bangalore

15.  Chitra Ahanthem, Imphal

16.  Manjira Mojumdar, Kolkata

17. Kamayani Bali Mahabal, Mumbai