Union Minister Maneka Gandhi has written to Information and Broadcasting Minister Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore, demanding a probe into reports of sexual harassment of casual announcers at state-owned All India Radio (AIR). Alleging that no action was taken on complaints filed by temporary employees, the minister wrote that the Workplace Act was equally applicable to all employees irrespective of the nature of their employment.
"I am enclosing a copy of a news item where it has been reported that women working as casual announcers in All India Radio are being sexually harassed. The news item indicates that this problem (exists) at different stations of AIR. The details of the complaints are such that I am compelled to refer them to you for an inquiry," Ms Gandhi wrote in the letter.
Ms Gandhi said the "tendency to dismiss a casual woman employee the moment she reports sexual harassment" was not at all good.
"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. Some of these women had complained to the appropriate authorities but no action seems to have been taken. I understand that an organisation would have a natural tendency to dismiss a casual woman employee the moment she reports sexual harassment. But this is not good," the minister added.
MJ Akbar resigned last month from the post of minister of state for external affairs after 20 women accused him of sexually harassing them when he worked as a journalist. A woman also alleged that Akbar raped her when she worked at a newspaper he edited.
Under the #Metoo movement, thousands of women have come out on social media platforms with their accounts of sexual harassment at work place. Allegations of sexual misconduct came up against several journalists and Bollywood personalities.
With inputs from ANI