Sexual harassment in Indian media: IWPC seeks institutional mechanism for women victims
By Rati | PUBLISHED: 09, Oct 2018, 15:54 pm IST | UPDATED: 09, Oct 2018, 16:01 pm IST
Expressing deep concern over the spate of instances of sexual harassment faced by women journalists across the media, Indian Women's Press Corps has come out strongly to extend its support to all the women journalists and women employees in the media who have faced sexual harassment by their co-workers and superiors and have had the courage to speak out.
The statment issued says that the fact that many of the complaints have gone unheard despite being brought to the notice of the appropriate authorities is disturbing and a matter of grave concern. It is also reflective of a systemic malaise where despite the enactment of the Sexual Harassment of Women at the Workplace (Prevention,Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013, the committees required to address these complaints and grievances are either not properly constituted or simply do not exist.
It may be pointed out that all media organisations have a legal obligation to set up Internal Complaints Committees in every branch office and disseminate information about what constitutes sexual harassment as well as the venues to seek redress. The phenomenon of many women journalists speaking out through the social media has arisen precisely because of either the absence or the abject failure of robust institutional grievance redress mechanisms that ought to have been readily available to the complainants in the first place. The emphasis, within the Act, is on prevention rather than punitive action, therefore the measures for such prevention have to be in place as a matter of conscious organizational policy. There ought to be zero tolerance for any form of inappropriate behaviour towards women employees. More fundamentally, the regular sensitisation of all employees towards what constitutes "welcome" and "unwelcome behaviour" is a prerequisite for a safe and secure work environment.
Every woman employee has the right to work in an atmosphere free from any kind of harassment and hostility and employers have a responsibility to ensure the safety and security of women employees in particular. It has been recognised that such harassment has health, economic and social consequences apart from affecting the productivity of the aggrieved employee at the workplace.
Given the pervasiveness of sexual harassment in the media, we demand that employers set up the institutional mechanisms mandated under the law so that every woman employee in every media organisation has recourse to redress as and when the occasion arises. We also urge women employees to take recourse to the system of redress and the processes involved in order that their grievance is addressed by the appropriate forum.