All India Radio #MeToo: Maneka Gandhi Orders Probe Into Allegations
Union Minister for Woman and Child Development (WCD) Maneka Gandhi has asked the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting to probe all sexual harassment allegations at All India Radio (AIR) stations across the country.
The #MeToo wave has hit AIR
According to the Indian Express, this order comes following a letter written by All India Radio Casual Announcer and Comperes Union (AICACU) last week.
In its letter to Gandhi, AICACU pointed out that “casual Announcers/Comperes/Radio Jockeys of AIR” find it difficult to “raise voice against any kind of suppression, harassment, injustice caused by the officials, as they always work under fear of losing the job. Female casual workers, who complain of sexual harassment, are removed from the job and their witnesses – whether males or females – are also targeted the same way”.
Several cases of alleged sexual harassment complaints came forward from different AIR stations in the past few weeks. Reportedly, these cases have occurred over the last few years and the survivors, who are all casual women employees, have not got any assignment since they complained.
All accused are permanent staffers. While some of them were transferred, others got an all-clear. Another fact to be noted is here is that the Internal Complaints Committee (ICC) in these cases only comprised of permanent staffers.
Shockingly, nine women employees of All India Radio’s Shahdol station in Madhya Pradesh had publicly accused the station’s assistant director (programming), Ratnakar Bharti, of sexual harassment, as per reports. Complaints citing similar instances of sexual harassment were also received from Dharamshala, Obra, Sagar, Rampur, Kurukshetra and Delhi stations. The AIR employee union claimed that the accused were let off with just a warning in all these cases. On the other hand, all complainants had been asked to leave their respective services.
AICACU General Secretary Shabnam Khanam said the matter of the “double victimisation” of women employees through sexual harassment and loss of job has not been resolved despite repeated letters to Prasar Bharati and I&B Ministry.
Earlier, the All India Radio Trade Union employees had demanded that the Prasar Bharati CEO look into the matter seriously and reinstate these survivors. The union had asked for compensation for employees for their loss and ensuring strictest possible punishment to all accused officials.