A day after the National Commission for Women (NCW) released a statement that the Prasar Bharati has submitted its Action Taken Report on complaints of sexual harassment in All India Radio (AIR), the All India Radio Casual Announcer and Comperes Union (AIRCACU) on Saturday termed the report an “eyewash”, and “an insult to the casual women employees who are victims of sexual harassment”.
In a letter to Women and Child Development Minister Maneka Gandhi and NCW chairperson Rekha Sharma, dated December 8, AIRCACU has pointed out that the Prasar Bharati has admitted to only one case of sexual harassment based on a complaint by nine women in the Shahdol Air station even as “such incidents have taken place in different stations of AIR across the country”.
The letter also points out that not one of the several women casual comperes/announcers who were sacked for speaking out against sexual harassment have been reinstated by AIR/Prasar Bharati, neither have any of them received compensation for the “agony and loss they have suffered”.
In the wake of the #MeToo movement, the AIR union has been raising the issue of widespread sexual harassment cases with Gandhi and NCW, as well as the Information and Broadcasting Ministry.
While the I&B ministry is yet to respond on the allegations, the NCW issued a statement on Friday that Prasar Bharati has responded to the Commission’s letter regarding allegations of sexual harassment from women in AIR — all casual employees — against their male superiors, all of them permanent employees. In its response, Prasar Bharati has detailed only the action taken by it against then Shahdol AIR station’s assistant director Ratnakar Bharti, who was found guilty of sexually harassing nine casual comperes/announcers.
Last month, The Indian Express reported on accounts of sexual harassment faced by casual women employees from several AIR stations across the country, including Shahdol and Sagar in Madhya Pradesh, Kurukshetra in Haryana, Obra in Uttar Pradesh, and Dharamshala in Himachal Pradesh. In all these cases, the women have not been assigned any duty from the time they complained, although many of them have worked for AIR for two decades or more.
All the accused permanent staffers were only transferred or exonerated of all charges.
Terming the Prasar Bharati’s Action Taken Report “ridiculous, shameful” and intended to “mislead”, AIRCACU’s letter points out that even in the Shahdol case no stringent action has been taken against the accused. It adds that the “present Director General of AIR, F Sheheryar, must also be held responsible for these instances of sexual harassment”, and for the loss of jobs of the victims, as he has refused to act against any of the accused.
AIR D-G F Sheheryar and Prasar Bharati CEO Sashi Shekhar Vempati could not be reached for their comments despite repeated attempts.