Airhostess face sexual harassment by passengers during flight.

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COIMBATORE, TAMIL NADU: A leader of Hindu Mahasabha, a pro-Hindu outfit along with two other lawyers, who were allegedly in an inebriated state, have been arrested on charges of harassing the crew and passengers of a Chennai-bound flight before it was to take off from Coimbatore last night.

The three, Senthel Kumar, Raja, both from Perundurai, and Subhash Swaminathan from Trichy, who is Vice President of Akhil Bharat Hindu Mahasabha’s Tamil Nadu unit, were today remanded in judicial custody for 14 days by a court, police said in Coimbatore.

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They boarded an Indigo flight at 10 pm last night. The trouble started before the plane took off when one of the three lawyers allegedly took photograph of an airhostess from his mobile phone which was objected to by the woman.

Other passengers also protested against the behaviour and later the pilot stepped in and asked the accused to behave.

Get the full story on  :

http://www.ndtv.com/tamil-nadu-news/leader-of-pro-hindu-outfit-2-others-arrested-for-misbehaving-with-airhostess-1245173

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Indian Army Officer faces sexual harassment at workplace

An army officer who was a prominent part of the first-ever Indian Army women officers’ contingent that showcased ‘naari shakti’ at Rajpath this year at the Republic Day parade has alleged sexual harassment by her senior.

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The complainant said that while the army sat on her complaint for nearly two months, the accused was posted to a much larger commanding unit. Disappointed by the way her complaint was handled by the authorities, the father of the officer has written an emotional appeal to Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar to look into the matter.

Commissioned into the Indian Army in March 2013, the officer was posted in Alwar in February this year, after her participation in the prestigious Republic Day Parade. But soon after joining her first posting, the officer’s ordeal began. On her arrival to the new unit, the first question her Commanding Officer asked her was whether she had a boyfriend. And this was just the beginning. The officer alleged that the senior officer not only touched her private parts but also made various sexual remarks about her. For instance, “When a lady officer salutes, people look at her breasts and when they pass by people look at their butts”. Such remarks made to her have been mentioned in her detailed complaint to the Brigade Commander of the unit.

This incident and the letter of the officer’s father comes at a time when the government is considering giving combat roles to female officers in the armed forces. Only last week, the Indian Air Force chief has made an announcement that the force will soon have women fighter pilots. But it seems women in the armed forces are yet to get their basic rights.

Click on following links for news reports :

http://www.newindianexpress.com/thesundaystandard/Sexual-Harassment-in-Indian-Army-Shocks-the-Ranks/2015/10/18/article3085134.ece

http://www.newindianexpress.com/nation/EXPRESS-IMPACT-Dont-Shield-Sex-Abuse-Tainted-Colonel-Says-Probe-Chief/2015/10/21/article3090303.ece

Meeting held for organizing Statewide Campaign “Towards Safe and Violence free Workplaces” on 23rd October,2015 at Jagdish Ajmera Sabhagruh, Mumbai

Policies and legal mechanisms alone cannot help in curbing the problems faced by women at workplace – the overall attitude and acceptance level of the people of needs to change. Just letting women work outside home does not mean that society treats men and women equally. The issues and problems that women face in their workplaces should be put to an end and then only it can be said that men and women have equal status. Although there are various laws that are made for protection of women even in workplace but due to lack of proper implementation and interpretation of law, it has not been quite effective in protecting women from the crimes and inequality in the workplace. Organizations are going out of their way to ensure they provide safe work environment for their women employees, and are also putting up policies to ensure the women feel motivated to work and continue their career, even after childbirth. Insufficient maternity leave is another major issue that is faced by a working mother. This not only affects the performance of women employees at work, but is also detrimental to their personal lives.

HRLN Mumbai together with Maharashtra State Transport Kamgar Sanghatna is planning to launch a campaign on “Towards Safe and Violence free Workplaces” on the occasion of the UN day for elimination of Violence against Women on 25th November 2015.  This campaign will be launched by MSTKS all over the state of Maharashtra and all the 32 divisions are expected to join in.  Posters will be published, slogans framed and awareness programmes will be conducted at the division level.In order to plan and support this state level campaign the second  planning meeting was held on the 23rd October 2015 at Jagdish Ajmera Sabhagruh.Various unions and Ngos participated in the meeting in order to support the campaign .

Banjara woman beaten and sexually harassed by 7 drunk police constables for refusing to cook crabs

Sanubai, a banjara woman was beaten brutally and sexually  harassed by 7 policemen in Chandrapur.  Sanubai is a daily wage labourer, and the only earning member in the family. The department is not only trying to save the accused policemen, but also justifying this act by saying that woman is involved in sale of alcohol which is illegal in the district, and thus deserves this treatment. IMG-20151017-WA0005

Where are the Women?- Newslaundry

Prominent English newspapers have for long championed the cause of women’s reservation in Parliament, detailing how a Bill is needed to ensure representation of women in the national legislature. It seems, however, that they have done little to ensure adequate female representation on their pages.
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For three months, starting August, 2014, Newslaundry painstakingly reviewed four leading English newspapers to gauge the number of male and female contributors. And the results don’t exactly paint a pretty picture: 73 per cent of the 8,681 articles examined were written by men.

The papers examined were the Delhi editions of The Times of India (TOI), The Hindustan Times(HT), The Hindu and The Indian Express. TOI, The Hindu and HT are the country’s top papers – in terms of circulation – in that order, according to the Audit Bureau of Circulations.
The Indian Express does not figure in the top five most widely circulated newspapers but was added to the list considering the impact it has owing to its readership in policy circles. It would be fair to state that together the four papers set the agenda for the government and national discourse. And even as they dissect other establishments on issues of gender equality, our research shows that they don’t quite pass the test themselves.

Click on the following link for full article:

http://www.newslaundry.com/2014/12/05/where-are-the-women/

Bombay High Court passes order on Counselling & Mediation in domestic violence cases.

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The Department of Women and Child Development of the Government of Maharashtra issued a circular on 24th July, 2014 regarding one of the aspects under the DV Act (Domestic Violence Act) i.e. counseling/mediation of women who face domestic violence. The impugned circular dated 24th July, 2014 directs that “only after the case under the DV Act is filed in Court and directions are given by the Court for counseling or mediation that counseling or mediation can be carried out and that outside agencies cannot carry out those activities without the directions of the Court.”

The impugned circular specifies that those agencies are only allowed to inform the aggrieved woman of her rights, make available medical and shelter home services to her and encourage her to file a case in the court either by herself or through a protection officer.

The spirit of the Domestic Violence Act is as much of protecting the victim as of preventing the violence and empowering her to have access to justice. For protection and prevention of the violence counseling has, by experience, been seen to be an effective antidote.

Ms. Jaya Sagade is a service provider under the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005 (DV Act) as part of women’s study center of  the ILS Law College, Pune Maharashtra where she serves as Professor of Law. By way of a letter to Chief Justice Bombay High Court, the court has taken this matter up as a Petition suo motto. Along with Petitioner other organizations that have intervened  include Lawyers Collective, HRLN, Majlis Manch, TATA Institute of Social Services (TISS), Stree Mukti Sanghatana (SMS), Bhartiya Stree Shakti (BSS) and have submitted their ground level experience  before the Court.

Indeed the statement of objects and reasons under the DV Act dated 13th September, 2005 is to protect the woman from being victimized by domestic violence and to prevent occurrences of domestic violence in the society. It is therefore a legislation to arm the woman from being victimized by violation.

It is only counselling of specialised persons with expertise in that feild that would empower her to take charge of her life to protect herself and prevent the violation. Such counselling would have to be given to the woman ideally long before she could have contemplated having access to justice. It would have been grotesquely insensitive if it had, failed to provide for such much needed counselling so that the aggrieved woman can regain her lost self esteem and start living the life of dignity that she is entitled to.

The Bombay High Court, felt compelled to set aside the impugned circular issued by the State of Maharashtra dated 24th  July, 2014 as being discriminatory, arbitrary and unreasonable but not without laying down guidelines for the framework of the pre­litigation counselling conducted by any of the registered service providers including NGOs, Counselors, police etc.

The order passed was such :

  1. The circular issued by the State of Maharashtra dated 24th July, 2014 was quashed and set aside.
  1. A set of guidelines were laid down regarding the counselling process to be carried on by NGO’s while dealing with women who face domestic violence. They included:

(a)A violated woman must be informed about her right to choice of the future course of action.  She shall have the last  choice.  She must be guided with regard to her legal rights under the DV Act.

(b)There shall be no pressure or force upon her to settle her claim or grievance.The joint counselling/mediation shall be commenced only upon the voluntary, informed consent of the aggrieved woman.

(c) No joint counselling / mediation shall be undertaken  in  a  case of serious physical domestic violence suffered by any woman

(d) In all other cases of DV the NGOs,Counsellors or the police, preferably through the Mahila Desk may undertake   counselling of the woman and even joint counselling / mediation of the woman with her spouse / husband, family members / in­laws to settle the dispute amicably either by reconciliation or amicable separation.

(e) Upon the parties entering into any settlement an “Assurance Paper” or “Terms of Settlement” may be entered into and executed by the parties.

Following is the link to the complete order as given by Chief Justice. Mohit Shah and Justice Roshan Dalvi  of the Bombay High Court dated 4th September 2015 :

http://bombayhighcourt.nic.in/generatenewauth.php?auth=cGF0aD0uL2RhdGEvanVkZ2VtZW50cy8yMDE1LyZmbmFtZT1DUElMMTU2MzgxNS5wZGYmc21mbGFnPU4mcmp1ZGRhdGU9JnVwbG9hZGR0PTA0LzA5LzIwMTUmc3Bhc3NwaHJhc2U9MzAwOTE1MTg0MzQ1

MSTKS Strives Towards Initiating State Wide Campaign To Prevent Violence Against Women

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Of the total number of crimes against women reported in 1990, half related to molestation and harassment in the workplace. In 1997, in the landmark Vishakha judgement, the Supreme Court of India took a stand against sexual harassment of women in the workplace. The Court also laid down detailed guidelines for prevention and redressal of grievances. The National Commission for Women subsequently elaborated these guidelines into a Code of Conduct for employers. In 2013 The Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace ( Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act was enacted to prevent harassment of women at workplace. As the number of working women has been increasing and while that is a welcoming change; we have failed to a great extent to make the work places gender sensitive.

Sexual Violence –

 The Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace Act 2013 has been enacted with the objective of providing women protection against sexual harassment at the workplace and for the prevention and redressal of such complaints. Sexual harassment at the workplace is any unwelcome sexually defined behaviour which has the purpose or effect of interfering with the individual’s work performance or creating an intimidating, hostile, abusive or offensive working environment. Despite the enactment of the law in 2013, the state has failed to look into effective implementation of the law. Though the law provides for constitution of Local Complaints Committee at District Level as well as an Internal Complaints Committee in every workplace constituting more than 10 employees, there is no awareness of the new legislation and lack of committees in private as well as public sector.

itf event webpage MSTKS

Maharashtra State Transport Kamgar Sanghatna is one such organization planning to effectively implement the SHWP Act. It is a 60 years old organisation involved in protecting workers rights and procuring improved working conditions of thousands of workers working in MSRTC.

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The management of MSRTC over the last decade or so decided to appoint  women in various positions.  Though at present there are about 7500 women in MSRTC, this number is going up day by day.  Women today are working as bus conductors, mechanics, technicians and in other mobile and non-mobile which are mostly seen as men’s work. The women are not only doing these jobs with efficiency, but also making public transport much safer for women passenger, merely with their presence.  However, with the women joining the road transport industry, it has also been observed that they are subjected to a lot of hardships and problems at their workplaces.  Road rage, violence, abuse and harassment both mental and sexual are rampant apart from lack of basic facilities like rest rooms, toilets, drinking water etc.The women workers, particularly those assigned to be field duties are working under a lot of stress and duress mainly due to the nature of their jobs. Like any other sector in our society, here are huge number of cases that go unreported.

It is especially in rural areas of Maharashtra and districts such as Jalgaon , Chandrapur , Gadchiroli, Aurangabad etc that the number of sexual harassment incidents of transport workers is rampant. Access to legal know how and  suppression by male dominant employees make it all the more difficult for aggrieved women to redress their grievances.

The above-mentioned scenario can be explained in depth and substantiated with the help of few case studies. The case studies are based on true cases of sexual harassment reported by MSTKS workers. It describes and depict both in livid and vivid manner the severe repercussions faced by women owing to their professional choices.

  • In Jalgaon – A woman bus conductor Neeta (name changed to maintain confidentiality) faced sexual harassment while she was on duty. As it was evening time, there were few people in the bus, one person was sitting alone at the back, Neeta went to him and said ‘kaka ticket le lo’ (please take the ticket) , the person refused, and when Neeta requested him again to take the ticket, to her horror he opened his  Zip and showed her his private parts. This incident left her horrified, shocked and helpless.
  • Priya (name changed) was new at job, when she found that the Division collector (DC) was paying some extra attention to her,she initially ignored it, and it gradually developed into asking sexual advances from her. She was forced to do night duty, like many other women conductors, when she requested for a day time duty, the DC told her that you will get day time duty only if ‘you eat udad ki daal’ a code word to demand of sex.
  • Radha (name changed) was asked on the face to come and sleep with the supervisor, and when she refused, the supervisor made sure that the work environment gets really difficult for her.

The women are either forced to leave the jobs when they do not reciprocate to these sexual advances, or suffer in silence and succumb to the situation.

These are not only individual or rare incidents, there are thousands of incidents happening all around us. It’s a very common pattern to create hostile work environment for women when they say no to sexual favours to their superiors. Most of the times the women are even more vulnerable in situations where the superior is male, and have the authority to decide working hours and areas for women. These cases go unreported because even though we have the provision of Internal Complaint Committees in all the offices and Local Complaint Committees in districts (for unorganised sector), under Sexual Harassment at Work place (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act 2013, the implementation is very poor, and committees are under the pressure of management.

Another major issue to be addressed to along with working women and violence against them is the fact that women passengers equally face such violence on daily basis.Passengers seem to lose hope of feeling secure and safe even while using Public transport.Passenger Unions of Maharashtra State Transport are striving hard to take all measures necessary to provide for a safe environment for Passengers.

Gender sensitive work environment – There are a lot of cases of women bus conductors going through miscarriages in Maharahstra. The provision for maternity leave is for 6 months, thus women with 2-3 months of pregnancy go to work. Instead of getting a job of light nature, or a desk job, these women have no choice but to continue their jobs of  travelling on  badly constructed roads in rural areas, and go through complicates and miscarriages.

There are no properly constructed rest rooms for women workers, no facility of dropping them back to home safely after their night duties. It is a shame that we have majorly failed to create a gender sensitive work places, the situations are far worse for class four women employees and unorganised sector women, since the negotiation power is very less.

As a response to this situation, Maharashtra State Transport Sangathana has decided to take the first step to bring a change. The union is bringing together all women workers to put a stop to sexual and gender based violence, bring awareness and ensure some systemic changes for women’s safety at workplace. In this context, the union is launching a Statewide campaign on 25th of November 2015 in Maharashtra, with support of several transport, passenger unions, media, NGOs, women groups and men’s groups working to end gender based violence. This campaign will be launched by MSTKS all over the state of Maharashtra and all the 32 divisions are expected to join in.  Posters will be published, slogans framed and awareness programmes will be conducted at the division level. The union’s State Level Women organiser Sheela Sanjay Naikwade is taking initiative role to launch this campaign.

In order to plan and support this state level campaign a pre planning meeting was held on the 11th of September 2015. This is only the beginning to a much needed awareness campaign which ought to be maintained sustainably.

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