Media Release: India
April 4, 2013
The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) joins partners and affiliates in demanding justice and fair treatment for S. Akila, a journalist placed under suspension by the Sun TV news channel based in the southern Indian city of Chennai, after she filed sexual harassment complaints against two of her seniors in the organisation.
According to information provided by the Network of Women in Media, India, Akila joined Sun TV in its Chennai headquarters in December 2011 as a news anchor and producer and faced, from that moment on, extraordinary pressures on the job. Two of her immediate seniors were reportedly explicit in the demands she would be expected to fulfill.
Refusal to comply led to Akila’s probation being extended, her earned perks – such as the annual bonus – being denied, and finally, to her being threatened with “dire consequences” if she went public with the situation she faced. Despite a time-honoured convention that women would not be put on shifts at odd times of the 24×7 news cycle, she was soon assigned as anchor for the 6 a.m. news bulletin, requiring her to report at work an hour ahead.
After repeated protests failed to fetch any relief, Akila on 19 March, filed a complaint of sexual harassment with the nearest police station. Her two immediate seniors, both named in the complaint, were soon afterwards arrested and charged under the relevant law applicable in the state of Tamil Nadu.
Akila reportedly began receiving threatening telephone calls afterwards. A male colleague who had supported her struggle against harassment was soon afterwards placed under suspension. On 25 March, Akila reported for work at her appointed time but was not allowed to anchor the noon news bulletin she was assigned to. A day later, one of the men named in her complaint rejoined Sun TV after securing bail.
Akila was served an order of suspension the following day.
“We are shocked at this sequence of events in one of India’s largest and most diversified media conglomerates”, said the IFJ Asia-Pacific.
“The IFJ demands a quick and impartial inquiry into the entire range of circumstances leading to Akila’s dismissal from her job and prompt restitution for the mental trauma she has suffered.
“The news organisation that has permitted this manner of exploitative culture to flourish should without further delay, hold out reassurances to all its female employees and institute strict sanctions against any further recurrence of such behaviour”.
For further information contact IFJ Asia-Pacific on +612 9333 0950
The IFJ represents more than 600,000 journalists in 131 countries
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