#MeToo in AIR: Maneka Gandhi orders probe after allegations surface
After numerous sexual harassment allegations surfaced against All India Radio employees, Woman and Child Development (WCD) minister Maneka Gandhi has asked the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting to probe the accusations. In wake of India's #MeToo movement, many women, all casual employees of AIR, spoke about facing harassment. Many of the victims complained to ICC too, but nothing substantial came out of the complaints.
There have been numerous incidents of assault
The abuse on casual employees of AIR is distressing, to say the least. Women working at stations in Shahdol and Sagar in Madhya Pradesh, Obra in Uttar Pradesh, Kurukshetra in Haryana, and Dharamshala in Himachal Pradesh, have alleged sexual harassment. Most of the accused are permanent staffers, who weren't affected by the charges. Some were transferred, some got a clean chit, while women suffered.
An employee alleged her senior commented on her breasts
Two employees at Shahdol station told a senior used to pass lewd comments, and grabbed them too, IE reports. At AIR Obra, Shanti Verma, a 43-year-old employee, alleged station head GP Nirala rubbed her and passed comments on her breasts. But the ICC concluded nothing happened. Jyoti Pathani claimed she was molested by station head of AIR Dharamshala Suresh Kumar.
After complaint, life doesn't get easier for victims
In most of these cases, women have been shunned after they complained about harassment. Pathani said she had to travel to Jalandhar for court proceedings and finally stopped when she realized it isn't nearing an end. Moreover, after she filed a formal complaint, none of her colleagues stood with her. Most of them reported to Kumar. She hasn't got an assignment since August 20, 2016.
Another employee says she wasn't assigned anything after complaining
Samta Jhudeley, who has been working at AIR Sagar since 2000, met the same fate. She had complained station director Alok Ray and three other men mentally harassed and intimidated her. A team was sent from ICC Shahdol after she complained but it concluded she wasn't harassed. Since March 2016, she hasn't been given any assignments either.
AICACU writes letter to Maneka Gandhi highlighting the problems
Notably, All India Radio Casual Announcer and Comperes Union (AICACU) wrote to Gandhi to highlight the double trauma victims of sexual harassment had to go through. In the letter, AICACU pointed out women always worked under the pressure of losing their jobs, which made it difficult for them to 'raise voice against any kind of suppression, harassment, injustice caused by the officials'.