By the Indian Women’s Press Corps
Tehelka (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
The Indian Women’s Press Corps strongly condemns the sexual misconduct by the Editor-in-Chief of Tehelka against a young women journalist. While this is one of the few cases that has come into the public domain because of the journalist’s courage and convictions there are many incidents of harassment that occur within the media community which unfortunately are not aired because of the fear of retribution or unwelcome publicity.
Against, the backdrop of this recent complaint of sexual assault and as an increasing number of women join the media force, the IWPC feels that media houses and organisations should take corrective measures, including setting up pro-active internal complaints committees for the effective enforcement of the Vishakha Guidelines. Towards that end, the IWPC also urges the magazine to set up an inquiry committee to investigate the complaint made by the journalist. If found guilty, suitable action should be taken against the perpetrator. As a media body of 600 professional women journalists the IWPC believes that while the media has a mandate to report on the misdeeds of others it is also important that we turn the searchlight within our community.
Sexual harassment in any form goes against a women’s fundamental right to work without fear and prejudice. The setting up of sexual harassment committees, instituted in compliance with the Supreme Court guidelines, will help in redressing cases of harassment in a swift, fair and professional manner. For the committees to be useful, they need to be constituted carefully so that they can facilitate an atmosphere of trust between employees and the management. The effective functioning of such committees will ensure that women journalists have a sense of confidence about their professional space. Such committees will also give women journalists the assurance that if they register an official complaint against sexual misconduct they will not be singled out or intimidated by the seniority of the perpetrator.
The Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013, is a Legislative Act, which seeks to protect women from sexual harassment at their place of work. Passed by the Lok Sabha on September 3, 2012, it was cleared by the Rajya Sabha on February 26, 2013 and the Bill received the President’s assent on April 23 this year.
Mannika Chopra Aruna Singh