National Commission for Women Chairperson Rekha Sharma on Thursday asked the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting to look into recent complaints of sexual harassment made by All India Radio employees, and submit a status report within a week, PTI reported.
Sharma also wrote to Prasar Bharti Chief Executive Officer Shashi S Vempati, seeking an investigation into the allegations. She asked him to submit an action-taken report within 15 days.
In a complaint to the women’s commission, the All India Radio Casual Announcer and Comperes Union claimed that casual announcers and comperes working in several stations across the country have been sexually harassed.
“After we got the letter, we realised that even before my time as the chairperson, there have been several complaints from the AIR casual employees to the National Commission of Women regarding sexual harassment at its stations,” Sharma told The Indian Express. “The commission had inquired into some of the complaints and issued directives to the Prasar Bharati in the past but not much came of it.”
A review of past cases and discussions with officials show that the radio broadcaster has been a “hub of sexual harassment at workplace”, Sharma said. She added that an inquiry committee will be set up to find out why such incidents are being reported from so many stations.
In a letter to Ministry of Information and Broadcasting Secretary Amit Khare, Sharma sought his “personal intervention”. In the wake of the recent #MeToo movement, several cases have been reported where sexual harassment complaints have been allegedly mishandled, she added.
“I am bringing [this] to your notice for your personal intervention in the matter and to keep the commission apprised about the status report within seven days of the receipt of the letter,” she said.
Women and Child Development Minister Maneka Gandhi on November 9 wrote to Information and Broadcasting Minister Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore and urged him ensure that a “sensitive and fair system” is put in place to address the complaints from AIR employees.
“Some of these women had complained to the appropriate authorities but no action seems to have been taken,” Gandhi wrote. “I would like to submit that the Sexual Harassment at Workplace Act is equally applicable to a woman employee irrespective of her being a permanent, temporary or casual employee.”