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Archives for : Kractivism

Non-profit sends three staff on leave after sexual harassment complaints- #MeToo at Teach for India

by-Neerja Deodhar

After the media and entertainment industries, voices from the education sector are now speaking up about harassment and abuse at the workplace, as part of the #MeTooIndia movement. As of 19 October, at least five such accounts have emerged on Twitter involving Teach For India, which is known as India’s leading non-profit organisation in education.

Poulomi Roy, an alumna of Symbiosis Centre for Media and Communication, has alleged that she was mentally and sexually harassed by Teach For India fellow Kapil Dawda when she was interning at the organisation as part of a compulsory internship, facilitated by her college. In an account posted on Twitter, she alleges that the harassment took place in a school in Govandi, Mumbai. She was 18 at the time.

Roy has accused Dawda of touching her inappropriately, invading her personal space, chastising her for interacting with fellows who were closer to her own age, and making demeaning comments about her. She adds that he allegedly threatened her with a bad report, and went on to write a report which contained “blatant lies”.

Roy eventually informed her college authorities about Dawda’s alleged behaviour. As part of their investigation, staff members called up fellows from the organisation, claims Roy, asking them if Dawda had harassed her. Roy alleges that following this, the fellows who were contacted asked her why she had falsely accused Dawda of harassment. Her college cancelled her internship, Roy told Firstpost, adding that no action was taken against Dawda, who is now the city director for Teach For India in Bengaluru.

#MeToo has created a platform where women — or anyone who has faced sexual harassment — can speak out, and be counted

At least five #MeToo accounts have emerged on Twitter involving Teach for India

When contacted by Firstpost, Dawda said he “unequivocally denied all allegations” made against him. “I am on a temporary leave of absence while the organisation’s internal complaints committee is investigating the matter. I intend to fully cooperate with the process. I am also independently considering legal recourse. I will not be able to comment further at this time,” he said.

Anupam Siddhartha, director of Symbiosis Centre for Media and Communication, when reached for comment regarding Roy’s case, said, “The Symbiosis International (Deemed University) ICC is investigating the matter as of now. As the matter is sub judice, we cannot comment on the same.” Siddhartha said the deputy registrar, SIU, could be reached for further updates.

A woman fellow working in Pune has accused her one-time manager Sachin Paranjape of asking her inappropriate questions, and touching her even when she made her discomfort with such behaviour evident. She alleges that Paranjape would call her at odd hours on the pretext of giving her feedback, usually negative in nature. The fellow also alleged that Paranjpe forced her to be alone with him in an empty room, where he verbally harassed her. She adds that she did not speak to the HR manager because the latter “claimed to be his [Sachin’s] best friend publicly”.

Speaking about her view of the organisation’s stance towards women’s safety at the workplace, she told Firstpost, “There are a lot of ex-female employees who are coming out and talking about their horror stories at the hands of senior members of the organisation. But recently, we got an e-mail from the founder Shaheen Mistry, asking us to directly complain to TFI and not publicly speak about the experiences. It really infuriated me.”

Firstpost’s emails to Paranjpe (who is currently a senior programme manager at Central Square Foundation), from 16 October onwards, went unanswered.

One woman fellow, who did not wish to be identified, details an experience involving a male fellow at her school who would allegedly harass female Teach For India staff by flirting with them. She says that he would turn ordinary conversations over text messages into conversations about their profile pictures. “He was known to save women’s WhatsApp pictures and send it back to them with unwelcome comments about how they look… He would stand outside our classrooms to ‘observe’ us and ‘shadow’ us as we taught — it always felt lecherous and sleazy.”

Despite confronting him and telling him to stop engaging in these behaviours, she says the man persisted. The woman adds that she and her colleagues also discovered that their male peer had physically hurt some of the children in his care; in particular, he had pinched a girl student. This is when the woman and her colleagues decided to formally complain to Teach For India.

“We had a formal conversation with the HR and our programme manager at the time. We were told by the HR to ‘seriously consider’ whether or not to raise a sexual harassment complaint. This automatically caused us to second guess ourselves. We were not encouraged or believed, and it was dismissed as unimportant,” she says. She adds that of all the accusations made, Teach For India allegedly only took cognisance of the child protection policy violation.

She says that action taken against the male fellow in question was that he was put on a “support plan”, where the programme manager they worked under would visit his classroom more frequently. Despite this, she says, he continued to be abusive. Teach For India allegedly took up active measures only when one fellow approached the headmistress of the school, because she felt that her safety was compromised even within the premises of the school. Members of the human resources department, the project manager and some senior staff members arrived at the school and asked him to resign immediately, she said.

“Little was done during our fellowship when fellows raised complaints about teachers/school staff who were sexually abusing children in the school. TFI was in a position of power and could have leveraged this to call out these abusers, but they chose not to, and dissuaded fellows from speaking up about it,” said this fellow, about the organisation’s attitude towards sexual harassment.

A Mumbai-based ex-employee of TFI, who wished to remain anonymous, spoke about the harassment that she was witness to when she was a fellow. She alleges that in 2012-13, a male employee forced himself on and subsequently harassed her colleague and friend. “His behaviour affected her considerably, and she went on to inform the TFI management about it. The CEO was aware of who the harasser was,” she said to Firstpost. She alleges that no action was taken against the accused, because the survivor’s complaint was “not recorded over email and said in person”.

Were these employees aware of Teach For India’s policy on sexual harassment at the workplace? Two of them say that there was never any public or open conversation about it (it is mentioned in their contract), while one remembers it was spoken about as part of the HR policy, but an internal complaints committee was not mentioned. “To the best of my knowledge, I remember that the process was to complain to HR and take it forward from there,” she explained.

Two of the accusers also spoke about the work culture at Teach For India, highlighting how committed fellows have to be to their job. “Anyone who has done the fellowship knows how emotional the experience can be. There is literally no day that I did not work and I gave it my all to teaching — and this I did while dealing with harassment by my manager,” she said. She added that very often, the boundaries between one’s personal and professional life become blurred over time at the organisation.

Firstpost contacted Teach For India to ask about the organisation’s policy on sexual harassment, including whether it allows accused employees to interact with school children. The organisation said that it cannot address questions regarding the specific cases since it is investigating allegations, and has instead shared the following statement:

We are shocked and saddened by the allegations that have recently been raised involving members of the Teach For India community. We believe in a workspace where all of our members, especially our women, feel valued and safe. We are currently working around the clock to investigate and take necessary actions, in line with the Sexual Harassment Act. We have an Independent Complaints Committee in place as per the law and being guided by independent counsel and expertise to ensure objectivity.

While our current investigations are going on, we have asked the three alleged members of our community to take a temporary leave of absence.

We want to ensure that all female members of our community have forums to speak. We encourage the usage of the right-to-speak platforms and have activated a grievance redressal email ID ([email protected]) where all sexual harassment complaints can directly be addressed to the Internal Complaints Committee. Our team is also working to gather advice from external consultants to assess that we have a robust mechanism in place to not only ensure compliance to policy guidelines, but equally importantly to also engage with women. We’re also in the process of scheduling town-hall meetings to engage with community members. Finally, we’ve directly engaged with some of the complainants and are working to get in touch with others. We will continue to reach out to ensure that they have a platform to express themselves openly.

As an organisation, we do need to go beyond compliance and ensure our culture is one that is safe and caring. This includes our ability to stay vigilant in educating ourselves, our teams and the ecosystem; taking a stance on behaviors encountered no matter how small; admitting mistakes and practicing accountability.

We fully support the public discussion surrounding sexual harassment in the workplace. We acknowledge that it is long overdue. And we are committed to doing the right thing. At present, all of our emotions are invested in ensuring we maintain and build a work environment in which our colleagues can work together in an atmosphere that is open, engaging and free from sexual harassment.

Network 18, of which Firstpost is a part, has received complaints of sexual harassment as well. The complaints which are within the purview of the workplace have been forwarded to our PoSH committee for appropriate action

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Mumbai-11-year-old on way home after garba raped by tempo driver #WTFnews


An eleven-yearold Class VII student was raped and sodomized for 30 minutes by a tempo driver inside the vehicle in Sakinaka on Tuesday night. When the 30-year-old accused learned that the police were on his trail, he chopped off his “funky hair” but was caught within 24 hours of the crime from his Sakinaka residence. Police have seized his mobile phone and retrieved the minor’s photos which he had clicked before committing the offence.

The crime took place when the girl and her 11-year-old male friend were returning home around 10pm on Tuesday after playing garba some distance away from their residence.

Alleged rapist had consumed narcotics: Police

The accused, an unemployed man who works part-time as a tempo driver, spotted the two children. “Khan had consumed some narcotic substance that day. He followed the children and when they reached a deserted spot, he attacked the girl’s friend who got frightened and fled. The accused then raped and sodomized the girl and released her around 10.30pm,” said a Sakinaka police official.

The child was since hospitalized. She has been discharged but is in shock.

After the accused released her, she went home and narrated her ordeal to her mother who took her to the police station. In her police statement, the child said she told her mother about the crime when asked to explain the delay in reaching home. “I was terrified but somehow managed to walk through the deserted lane to reach home. The man threatened me and clicked my photos and my friend’s too on his phone. He then slapped my friend and asked him to leave. He threatened me and told me to remain quiet before raping me. The entire stretch was deserted and there was no one around to help me.”

Based on the complaint, DCP Navinchandra Reddy (Zone X) supervised a team of Sakinaka police senior inspector Kishore Sawant, inspector Sunil Mane, assistant inspector Abdul Rauf and the detection staff, and arrested the accused on Wednesday.

“The victim and her friend helped us prepare his sketch that helped us get a lead from informers about his whereabouts. Meanwhile, he tried to change his hairstyle to evade arrest but we managed to nab him. He had deleted the girl’s photo from his phone but we retrieved it with the help of the forensic lab,” said a police official. The accused, who is in police custody, has been booked under Indian Penal Code sections 376 for rape and 377 for unnatural offences, and Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (Pocso) Act. Police are probing if he had committed similar offences in the past. He is married and has a daughter.

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Singer Shweta Pandit calls Anu Malik a paedophile, says he asked her for a kiss at 15 #MeToo

Singer Shweta Pandit has shared an incident from 17 years ago when composer Anu Malik allegedly asked her for a kiss in exchange for work when she was 15 years old.

Hindustan Times

Shweta Pandit,Anu Malik,MeToo
Singer Shweta Pandit has accused music composer Anu Malik of sexual harassment.

Singer Shweta Pandit has joined the long list of women in the Hindi film industry to name and shame their sexual harassers as part of the  #MeToo movement raging across the country. She has shared a detailed account of an incident from 17 years ago when music composer Anu Malik allegedly made sexual advances towards her when she was 15 years old.

Shweta called Anu Malik a paedophile and sexual predator in a long note shared on Twitter on Wednesday. “Had to go back to my worst memory as a teenage girl today to write this and speak up – its now or never. This is my #MeToo and have to warn young girls about #AnuMalik & let you know your #TimesUp @IndiaMeToo Thank you @sonamohapatra for speaking up about him & supporting this,” she wrote in her tweet.

View image on TwitterView image on TwitterView image on Twitter

Shweta Pandit


Had to go back to my worst memory as a teenage girl today to write this and speak up – its now or never. This is my and have to warn young girls about & let you know your @IndiaMeToo
Thank you @sonamohapatra for speaking up about him & supporting this

In the note, Shweta details the incident from 2001 when she met Anu for work. Her songs from 2000’s Mohabbatein had become huge hits and she was now looking for more work. She said she was an admirer of the musician and was thrilled when she got a call from Malik’s manager to come to Andheri’s Empire Studio in mid 2001 to meet him.

Malik then asked Pandit to sing a few lines for a voice test and after hearing her, said he’ll give her a song if she ‘gave him a kiss’. Shweta says she was traumatised by the incident. Calling it the “worst experience of my life”, the singer said she was depressed for months after the incident and could not even bring it up with her parents.

Read her full note here:

It has taken a lot in me to open up this wound again and speak up against this pedophile and sexual predator. It was the year 2000 when i was launched as a lead singer with #Mohabbatein (was the youngest singer back then in the Indian music industry) and was trying to get other good songs to follow up with the success of that soundtrack and the outstanding welcome it gave me in the music industry. I got a call from Anu Malik’s then manager (Mustafa) to come to #empirestudio in andheri sometime in mid 2001. I was thrilled like any singer would be. I used to admire his music and practice his songs for hours and look upto him back then! He was recording a group song with Sunidhi and Shaan for the film Awara Pagal Deewana, when my mother and i walked in the monitor room. He told me to wait in the small cabin inside where singers sang at Empire studio. It was just him and me there.

He asked me to sing something without any music as he wanted to hear my voice. I remember i sang the title song of har dil jo pyar karega as a voice test for this man. I sang it well so he said, “ill give you this song with Sunidhi and Shaan but first give me a kiss now” He then smiled, what id recall the most evil grin ive seen. I went numb and pale in the face. I was only 15years old then, still in school. Can anyone even imagine what it felt that moment? It felt like someone had just stabbed me in my stomach. I referred to this man as “Anu uncle”, he knew my entire family for decades and knew us as a respected gharana of musicians for generations who have given our entire lives dedicated to music for 4 generations.

He addressed my father as “Mandheer bhai”. And he does this to his bhai’s daughter? He has 2 young daughters of his own and thats how he treated a 15 year old minor girl. It was the worst experience of my life and i could never speak about it even to my parents. I could never ask any help to heal but was depressed for months. I cried endlessly after this incident and it affected my psyche as a young girl, so much that i could have left the industry but i re-thought and fought with my will-power that why should i leave my greatest passion for a pedophile like him but i still kept struggling for years to bury this inside me. I am sure many singers have been exploited by him as he is a known name for doing this to singers. Id urge those singers/women to share their stories too.

A week ago, singer Sona Mohapatra had also called Malik as a “serial predator”.

In response to Pandit’s allegation, Mohapatra thanked her for speaking up and calling out Malik.

“Sending you love, big healing and strength @ShwetaPandit7. That #AnuMalik did this to you as a child is something #India has to make note of. Thank you so much for being brave and bringing this out in the open. I know how difficult that is and the pressure to let ‘bygones be bygones’.



Sending you love,big healing & strength @ShwetaPandit7 .That did this to you as a child is something has to make note of.Thank U so much for being brave & bringing this out in the open.I know how difficult that is & the pressure to let ‘bygones be bygones’. (1)

“That so many people trolled me for my #AnuMalik #TimesUp story scoffing because they think calling me ‘Maal’ or calling up at odd hours doesn’t constitute as sexual harassment. Please note, you don’t know Sh*t. Predators do much worse when they get a chance because of people like you,” she wrote on Twitter.

When contacted for a response to Pandit’s allegatins, Malik told PTI, “No comments. This is ridiculous. I don’t want to talk about it. Today anyone says anything.”

Shweta said the incident left her depressed for months. “I could have left the industry but I rethought. Why should I leave my greatest passion for a paedophile like him?” she wrote. Anu Malik told PTI, “No comments. This is ridiculous. I don’t want to talk about it. Today anyone says anything.”

CINTAA meanwhile announced the setting up of a committee to tackle sexual harassment along Vishaka guidelines. Lawyer Vrinda Grover, actors Swara Bhasker, Raveena Tandon and Renuka Shahane, filmmaker Amol Gupte and journalist Bharati Dubey will be part of the committee. Fifty percent will be women.

But CINTAA expressed helplessness at taking up cases that are under legal process, like that of Alok Nath.

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India – 50cr mobiles with #Aadhaar KYC could be disconnected

New Delhi:

There could be a fresh KYC headache for over 50 crore mobile connections, or almost half of India’s phone population. They stare at the prospect of disconnection if SIM cards procured on the basis of Aadhaar verification are not backed up by a fresh identification.

The issue has come to the fore following the Supreme Court’s judgment on Aadhaar, where the court barred private companies from using an individual’s unique ID for authentication purposes.

The matter is now being discussed at the highest levels in the government, considering the large-scale impact it can have on citizens if phones are disconnected in vast numbers. Officials indicated that the government will give adequate time to complete fresh KYC.

On Wednesday, telecom secretary Aruna Sundararajan met mobile companies on the matter where a way out, and an alternative was discussed. The telecom department is also in discussions with the Unique Identification Authority of India over the issue.

Sundararajan told TOI that the government is mindful of the concerns in this regard and is looking to thrash a way out at the earliest.

Mobile cos await govt directions

She insisted that the government wants to make sure that “customers are not inconvenienced” during the transition. “We want to ensure that it is a smooth transition with little problems for subscribers,” she said.

A large part of the connections procured using Aadhaar would be from the stable of Reliance Jio, the newest entrant in the mobile business that began operations in September 2016 by on-boarding customers only through the biometric route. (Jio announced on Wednesday that the company had a subscriber base of over 25 crore at the end of September this year.) Apart from Jio, there would be similar subscribers (who have been given SIM cards only on the basis of Aadhaar authentication) in the fold of almost all the other phone companies—Bharti Airtel, Vodafone-Idea, and state-owned BSNL and MTNL.

Apart from these, millions of older customers are also left with only the digital Aadhaar identification since their previous pre-Aadhaar KYC paper documents may have been destroyed by telecom companies once their numbers were linked with Aadhaar. The freedom to destroy the older documents was accorded by the government in March last year since the documents were going digital by linkage with Aadhaar.

Mobile companies say they are waiting for a direction from the telecom department on the issue. “We are still not clear on the way forward. We had been asked by UIDAI to submit an ‘exit plan’ by October 15. However, a final direction on this matter will be clear only when we receive instructions from the telecom ministry,” a top official at one of the leading mobile companies said.

On the way forward, sources said that customers may now have to submit a fresh identification document as part of the KYC process. This could be a copy of the passport, driving licence, voter’s card, electricity bill, gas bill or PAN card.

The telecom department is expected to give a fresh order to the companies on the matter very soon, sources said.

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Mumbai- SNDT hostel warden shames student for outfit, strips her

SNDT hostel warden shames student for outfit, strips her

SNDT University’s hostel inmates went on a protest as word of the alleged sexual misconduct got around


Over 400 inmates of the hostel sat on a dharna till evening demanding the warden’s immediate dismissal.

The protest was called off only after the university management sent the warden on ‘administrative leave’ for four days.

University authorities said that the student had herself removed her clothes to show her the infection.

The Juhu hostel campus of SNDT University erupted in fury on Sunday after the warden allegedly shamed a student over the length of her skirt and then stripped her in her room.

The alleged sexual misconduct sparked a protest—over 400 inmates of the hostel sat on a dharna till evening demanding the warden’s immediate dismissal—and prompted the police to book the purported harasser for molestation. The protest was called off only after the university management sent the warden on ‘administrative leave’ for four days.

According to one of the hostel inmates, a second-year engineering student was headed out in the afternoon when she was stopped by the warden, Rachana Zaveri, because the hem of her skirt ended above her knees. Although the 19-year-old owed nobody an explanation for her choice of outfit, she still told the warden that because of an allergic reaction on her private parts, she couldn’t wear tightfitting clothes, and that she was on her way to a doctor get the infection looked at.

SNDT hostel warden shames student for outfit, strips her

The warden, however, refused to let her go outside and allegedly dragged her into her room with two of her friends. “The warden then humiliated her and made her strip,” said one of the students who was with the victim.

She’s a habitual abuser, claim students

This allegedly wasn’t first instance of harassment on the part of the warden. Another student claimed that many inmates have been at the receiving end of Zaveri’s abuse.

“The warden has often abused, harassed us and made inappropriate comments at us. We have been complaining about her behaviour for long, but instead of taking action against her, the university would reveal the complainants’ identities to the warden.

After that Zaveri would start targeting the complainants further and threaten them with dire consequences,” alleged another student.

Girls must wear decent clothes: Registrar

University authorities said the warden had contested the student’s claims, saying that the student had herself removed her clothes to show her the infection. “The warden claimed that the student forced her to go into the room and removed her clothes, saying she was not seeing what the problem was. The warden then came out of the room,” said a faculty member.

#MeToo: Last of five-part series on sexual harassment and legal recourse: We need to think beyond deadlines

Following the protest, the university management asked the students to submit their demands in writing. “They have sought the warden’s dismissal. The letter has been forwarded to the vice-chancellor, who is in Nagpur at the moment. She will return to Mumbai on Monday. We assured the students that the situation will be handled [appropriately]. Our hostel committee will investigate the matter and take action,” said the faculty member.

She has often abused, harassed us and made inappropriate comments at us. We have been complaining for long

A hostel inmate


The member also said students had complained to her about the warden’s “abusive” behaviour two days ago. “They said she is abusive and that her behaviour is unacceptable. They want the warden to be removed because she is following certain rules and norms in the hostel. The issue was of students taking food from the mess to their room. Sunday’s incident aggravated the situation,” she said.

Meena Kute, registrar (additional charge), told Mirror that she has called students for a meeting on Monday to discuss their grievances. “The rector has apologised and has been sent on a fourday leave. There are boys in the hostel, so we tell women students to wear decent clothes. When girls wear short or transparent clothes, we tell them.” The students, however, have misgivings about the authorities’ assurances. “They are telling us not to escalate the matter. We fear that they would send the warden back to the hostel and harass us further,” said another student.
An officer at Santacruz police station said Zaveri has been booked under Section 354 (molestation) of the IPc. “We haven’t arrested her yet. We will look into it on Monday.”

– With inputs from Rahi Gaikwad

mumbai mirror

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Nandita Das says she will support MeToo movement despite the allegations against her father

Nandita Das has written in a Facebook post that she will keep voicing support towards the #MeToo movement even though her father, Jatin Das, has been accused of sexual harassment.

Nandita Das,MeToo movement,Jatin Das
Nandita Das has written in a Facebook post that she will continue to support the MeToo movement.(Reuters)

Actor-director Nandita Das Tuesday broke her silence over the sexual harassment allegations against her father, noted painter Jatin Das, stating that she will continue to lend support to the  #MeToo movement. A woman, who is the co-founder of a paper-making company, Tuesday came forward to claim that she was sexually harassed 14 years ago by Jatin Das, allegations which the painter dismissed as “vulgar”.

In a Facebook post, Nandita said despite the “disturbing” allegations against her father, she would continue to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the women coming forward with stories of abuse and harassment.

She also warned that women need to be “sure” about their allegations before accusing someone.

“As a strong supporter of the #MeToo movement, I want to reiterate that I will continue to add my voice to it, despite the disturbing allegations made against my father, which he has categorically denied,” she wrote on the social networking site.

“I have maintained from the very start that this is the time we all need to listen, so that women (and men) feel safe to speak up. At the same time, it is also important to be sure about allegations so as not to dilute the movement,” the actor said. Nandita said she has received support from “friends and strangers – who are concerned and are trusting my integrity”. “I do believe truth will prevail. And that is all I have to say on this matter,” she asserted. Jatin Das is the latest addition to a growing list of men who have been named as part of the #MeToo campaign that has taken the country by storm.

The woman, Nisha Bora, took to Twitter to level the allegations against the noted painter. Describing the incident, Bora, who was 28-years-old then, said Das during a dinner event asked whether she “had the time and willingness to assist him for a few days to organise his work material”, and after she gave her approval on the second day — at his Khidki village studio — he molested her.

“… He attempted to grab me. I wriggled out of his embrace, flustered. Then he did it again… I pushed him away and moved away from him.


“At that moment, he said ‘Come on, it would be nice’. Or something like that. What I recall was his disbelief that I was pushing back. I picked my bag… and ran home. Never to speak about it. Until now,” she said.

The Padma Bhushan awardee, however, has denied the allegations and said these days a “game” was going on to level allegations against people for the “fun” of it.

He labelled the allegations against him as “vulgar”.

“I am shocked. All kinds of things are happening these days… Some people do things and some people make allegations. I don’t know her, I have never met her, and even if I did meet somebody somewhere one doesn’t behave like this… It is vulgar,” Das told PTI.

“There is a game going on, some people are real, have done some things while some people are making allegations for the fun of it,” he added.

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India -Around 80% sexual harassment cases go unreported survey reveals #MeToo

According to the survey, 50 percent respondents said they had faced sexual harassment at workplace during regular office hours

Moneycontrol News@moneycontrolcom

While the ‘#MeToo’ movement against sexual harassment is gaining momentum on social media, a large section of women are yet to report such cases, according to an online survey.

According to a nationwide online survey on sexual harassment at workplace, conducted by LocalCircles, around 80 percent women never report harassment in India. More than 28,000 votes were polled in the survey from over 15,000 unique participants located across India.

Approximately 6,100 or 40 percent of respondents were females. The participants from tier 1 cities were 40 percent, tier 2 cities were 28 percent and tier 3 cities and rural areas were 32 percent.

According to the survey, 32 percent respondents said they, or one of their family members have experienced or observed sexual harassment at workplace.

As many as 50 percent respondents said that they faced sexual harassment at workplace during regular office hours. Around 78 percent respondents said that such cases were not reported to the human resources (HR) department.

The survey also points to another problem that people are not aware of what inappropriate behavior is.

The 2013 Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace Act stipulates any organisation with more than ten employees should have an independent committee to investigate allegations.

However, many organisations are not adhering to the letter of the law, or only paying lip service to it. The committees required to address these complaints and grievances are either not properly constituted or simply do not exist.

The #MeToo movement which initially started in US has gained significant momentum in India. Many women, primarily from Bollywood and media industry have come forward about sexual harassment that they faced at workplace.

The #MeToo movement took shape in India after actress Tanushree Dutta accused co-star Nana Patekar of inappropriate behaviour while shooting for a film. Since then, many individuals have been called out on social media over alleged sexual harassment.

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India – 20 Women Journalists Support Priya Ramani, To Testify Against MJ Akbar #MeToo

The journalists have urged the court to hear their testimonies against MJ Akbar, claiming that some of them suffered sexual harassment by the minister and others have been a witness to it.

20 Women Journalists Support Priya Ramani, To Testify Against MJ Akbar

19 women journalists will support Priya Ramani, who alleged sexual harassment against MJ Akbar (File)

NEW DELHI: As the #MeToo movement gains ground, 19 women journalists who have worked with ‘The Asian Age’ newspaper, came out in support of their colleague Priya Ramani who has accused union minister MJ Akbar of sexual harassment, a joint statement issued by them said.

The journalists have urged the court to hear their testimonies against MJ Akbar, claiming that some of them suffered sexual harassment by the minister and others have been a witness to it.

“Ramani is not alone in her fight. We would request the honourable court hearing the defamation case to also consider the testimonies of sexual harassment of some of us at the hands of the petitioner, as also of the other signatories who bore witness to this harassment,” the journalists said in the joint statement undersigned by them.

Meenal Baghel who worked for Asian Age (1993 to 1996), Manisha Pande (1993-1998), Tushita Patel (1993-2000), Kanika Gahlaut (1995-1998), Suparna Sharma (1993-1996), Ramola Talwar Badam (1994-1995), Hoihnu Hauzel (1999-2000), Aisha Khan (1995-1998) and Kushalrani Gulab (1993-1997) have signed the statement.

Kaniza Gazari (Asian Age 1995-1997), Malavika Banerjee (1995-1998), AT Jayanthi (1995-1996), Hamida Parkar (1996-1999), Jonali Buragohain, Meenakshi Kumar (1996-2000), Sujata Dutta Sachdeva (1999-2000), Reshmi Chakraborty (1996-98), Kiran Manral (1993-96) and Sanjari Chatterjee are the other journalists to sign the statement.

One journalist from Deccan Chronicle, Christina Francis (2005-2011), also signed the statement.

“What Akbar has demonstrated through his legal actions is his refusal to introspect, acknowledge or atone for his actions that have caused immense pain and indeed harm to many women over the years.

“He himself, in the meanwhile, continues to enjoy enormous power and privilege as minister and Member of Parliament,” the statement said.

“When Ramani spoke out against him in public, she spoke not only about her personal experience, but also lifted the lid on the culture of ‘casual misogyny, entitlement and sexual predation’ that Akbar engendered and presided over at The Asian Age,” it said.

Many journalists from multiple media platforms have come forward with their stories of harassment against the Minister of State for External Affairs under the social media campaign ‘#MeToo’ against sexual misconduct.

MJ Akbar, however, has denied the allegations and on Monday filed a private criminal defamation complaint against Ms Ramani.

Hours after returning from a trip to Africa, the union minister issued a statement trashing the charges against him, saying accusations without evidence has become a “viral fever” among some sections.

Ms Ramani on Monday asserted that she was ready to fight the defamation complaint filed against her, and expressed disappointment over the minister’s statement, saying it paid no heed to the “trauma and fear of the survivors”.

“I am ready to fight the allegations of defamation laid against me as truth and the absolute truth is my only defence,” she had said

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MJ Akbar has 97 lawyers fighting for him against one Priya Ramani #WTFnews #MeToo

Crowdfunding, legal support pours in for survivors

Mumbai: First, the 14 survivors outed MJ Akbar, the junior minister in the external affairs ministry, after years of having struggled with the suffering which they reported they were forced to undergo.  Now, they have to contend with the might of a minister who has come down like a sack of coals on a woman of grit, ironically on the birth anniversary of his namesake and one of India’s greatest emperors, Jalaluddin Mohammed Akbar.

Support is pouring in for the survivors from every quarter, online and in person, as they ready to battle the criminal defamation suit filed by the former editor. The Network of Women in Media, India, the Foundation for Media Professionals and the Brihanmumbai Union of Journalists have sent a letter of protest in solidarity with the 14 survivors to the President and Prime Minister.

But first the shocker — 97 lawyers whom Akbar has named on the ‘vakalatnama’ are the same who had fought for Tarun Tejpal, founder of Tehelka. Journalist Vinod K Jose tweeted, “How do serial sexual offenders all have the same legal defence? Tejpal had a partner of Karanjawala and Co (Sandeep Kapoor) defending him. MJ Akbar has gone to Karanjawala himself. K’wala is a friend of Finance Minister Arun Jaitley. Political might comes to destroy,” said Jose.

However, just as goddess Durga emerged from the pooling of energies of all the gods, women from all quarters have pooled in their energies and resources. The minute the petition was put out, Nidhi Razdan of NDTV expressed shock. “Just read the entire criminal defamation suit filed by MJ Akbar. He has NINETY SEVEN lawyers fighting for him! 97! Against one Priya Ramani, Well, well,” said Razdan. Senior counsel, Indira Jaising responded, saying this was just the beginning, the legal teams only get larger. “Wife and daughters and two senior women partners, included, but you have not seen it all yet, in court it will be senior lawyers, so add to the numbers,” tweeted Jaising.

The court case will surely mean huge expenses for the survivors, and an additional burden. The co-founder of the Money Life Foundation, Sucheta Dalal, suggested crowdfunding. “Hey, Priya Ramani and all the 14 who spoke up. Let’s crowd fund your defence. I am sure many top lawyers will help you fight pro bono, but we at Money Life India know there are lots of expenses involved! So think about it! Happy to support, I am sure thousands of others will too!” said Dalal.

Yet another woman was ready to donate an amount equivalent to her monthly beauty parlour expenditure to the cause of the survivors. Or, “if there is a ‘go-fund-me’ link to pay for Priya Ramani’s legal defence, hook me up. I am ready to pay the entirety of my parlour expenses for the month for her. My message to MJ Akbar, we make money and we are coming for you,” said Aishwarya. Some noted the stoic silence of the government on allowing Akbar to continue in office, and believe this is blatant politicisation of the #MeToo movement. “Not surprised by Akbar/BJP brazening it out. The most consistent thing about Modi-Shah politics is, nobody is made to go under any allegations whatsoever. Those who jumped to announce Akbar resignation should’ve googled Kuldip Singh Sengar, BJP MLA in custody for rape and murder,” said Shekhar Gupta

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NWMI- MJ Akbar must step down and submit to investigation of sexual harassment charges #MeToo


Hon’ble President of India,
Ram Nath Kovind
Rashtrapati Bhavan,
New Delhi

The Prime Minister of India,
Narendra Modi
Prime Minister’s Office,
New Delhi


Sub: Defamation case against journalist Priya Ramani by MoS MJ Akbar 

Respected Sirs,

The Network of  Women in Media, India, along with  Foundation for Media Professionals and BrihanMumbai Union of Journalists, stands in solidarity with Priya Ramani and others who have accused former editor and current Union Minister of State MJ Akbar of sexual misconduct, and condemn what we see as a concerted effort to throttle an equal rights movement by using the threat of defamation suits to intimidate women who have gathered the courage to speak up.

We express our deep dismay at the allegations of sexual harassment, including assault, levelled by several journalists against Mr Akbar who continues to hold office in the Central Government despite these allegations.

The accounts pertain to his years as an editor with leading newspapers and newsmagazines in India, in interacting with women journalists. In several accounts, the journalists have stated that he continued to harass them while they were employed in various positions in the media houses that he headed.

In addition to Priya Ramani, the journalists include Anju Bharti, Ghazala Wahab, Harinder S. Baweja, Kadambari M. Wade, Kanika Gahlaut, Majlie de Puy Kamp, Malini Bhupta, Prerna S. Bindra, Ruth S. David, Saba Naqvi, Shuma Raha, Shutapa Paul and Suparna Sharma.

Mr Akbar has initiated legal action against Ms Ramani. We are extremely concerned that he continues to be a minister in the Union council of ministers even as he pursues whatever legal course of action he plans. You will agree this is highly unethical and improper and would cast a cloud over any investigation of his alleged misdeeds, besides undermining the independence, justice and fair play that any citizen can expect from such proceedings.

A criminal defamation charge is a clear attempt to bully, intimidate and silence those who are bringing to light systemic abuse of women by men in powerful positions. It is designed to push women back into silent compliance and will silence the voices of the many who have not yet spoken up.

We would like to point out that Section 499 of the IPC, which pertains to defamation, cites exceptions in case of “imputation of truth which public good requires to be made or published”. In the case of Mr Akbar, we strongly believe this holds true for a large section of women who may not otherwise find the voice to speak of sexual abuse.

In recent years, women have made great strides in various professional fields. In many cases, these women are the first generation from their families to have careers and hold jobs. The Constitution guarantees women the status of equal citizens and the Sexual Harassment of Women at the Workplace (Prevention and Prohibition) Act, 2013 is designed to protect women from sexual assault, thereby creating safer work spaces for them.

The past 10 days have seen an unprecedented wave of public statements by women across sectors about their experiences of sexual harassment and violence in the workplace. Many women have spoken out at great personal and professional cost. Across media, entertainment and corporate houses, those accused of sexual harassment are being asked to step down or submit to an enquiry as per law. By ignoring this defining moment, and watching silently while a government minister sues a woman who has spoken out, your government is giving a regressive message: that the fundamental right to life, safety and dignity of a sizeable section of the workforce does not matter. It’s an attempt to thwart democracy.

We demand that: 

  • MJ Akbar submit to an independent investigation.
  • The Ministry of External Affairs ask Mr Akbar to step down from office pending investigation.
  • The case against Ms Ramani be dropped by Mr Akbar.
  • All support be extended by the government to women in their struggle for justice.
  • That Ms Sushma Swaraj, Union Minister for External Affairs, take workplace harassment seriously and not encourage intimidatory tactics against women who have complained.

Network of Women in Media, India
Foundation of Media Professionals
BrihanMumbai Union of Journalists

Abhinandan Sekhri, CEO, Newslandry
Abhishek Choudhary
Alex D’souza, Mumbai
Alka Dhupkar
Ammu Joseph, Bengaluru
Amrita Dutta, Associate Editor, The Indian Express
Amrita Madhukalya
Ananya Chakraborti
Angshukanta Chakraborty
Ankita Anand
Anna Cheriac, Bengaluru
Anna MM Vetticad, Independent Journalist
Annie Thomas, Chennai
Anumeha Yadav, Delhi
Aparna Karthikeyan, Mumbai
Aradhna Wai
Archana Jha
Arti Jaiman, Community Broadcaster, Delhi
Ashlin Mathew, News Editor, National Herald
Avantika Mehta, New Delhi
Chandni Doulatramani
Chhavi Bhatia
Chitra Ahanthem, Imphal, Manipur
Chitrangda Chowdhury
DVL Padma Priya, Independent Journalist
Deepanjana Pal
Dhamini Ratnam
Dhanya Rajendran
Disha Shetty
Divya Rajagopal
Dushyant, Chief Editor,
Geeta Seshu, Mumbai
Gita Aravamudan, Bengaluru
Gita Bakshi
Heena Khandelwal
Inder Jain, General Secretary, BrihanMumbai Union of Journalists
Indulekha Aravind, Bengaluru
Jairaj Singh
Jayaditya Gupta, executive editor, ESPN India
Jyoti Punwani, Mumbai
Kajal Iyer, Mumbai
Kalpana Sharma, Mumbai
Kamayani Bali Mahabal, feminist and human rights activist, Mumbai
Kavita Shanmugham, Bengaluru
Kiran Manral
Laxmi Murthy, Bengaluru
Lakshmy Venkiteswaran, Chennai
Lesley Esteves, Journalist, New Delhi
MJ Pande, Mumbai
Madhavi Rajadhyaksha, Mumbai
Madhur Singh, India Correspondent, Bloomberg Law
Mahesh Rajput, UNI, Chandigarh
Maitri Porechha
Malini Subramaniam, Hyderabad
Manisha Pande, Delhi
Megha Moorthy, Associate Managing Editor, The Asian Age
Melanie P Kumar, Independent Writer, Bengaluru
Minnie Vaid, documentary film maker and author
Manoj Mitta, independent journalist and author, Delhi
Namita Bhandare
Navya P K, Independent journalist, Kerala
Neelam Jeena
Neeta Kolhatkar, Mumbai
Neha Dara, Chandigarh
Neha Dixit, Delhi
Neha Thirani Bagri, independent journalist, Mumbai
Nikhil Ghanekar
Niloufer Venkatraman
Nimmi Chauhan, Ahmedabad
Padmaja Shaw, Hyderabad
Prabhat Sharan, Mumbai
Praveen Donthi, Delhi
Priyanka Dubey
Prerna Thakurdesai
Prema Vishwanathan
R Akhileshwari, Journalist and Academic
Radhika Ramaseshan New Delhi
Ragamalika Karthikeyan, Bangalore
Raghu Karnad
Rahul Pandita, Delhi
Rajashri Dasgupta, Kolkata
Raksha Kumar, independent journalist
Raman Kirpal
Ranjitha Gunasekaran, Chennai
Ranjona Banerji, freelance journalist, Dehradun
Rehmat Merchant, Bengaluru
Rema Nagarajan
Renu Ramanath, Kochi
Revati Laul, Independent Journalist, Delhi
Revathi Siva Kumar
Rina Mukherjee, Pune
Ritika Jain
Ritupurna Chatterjee
Rohini Mohan, independent journalist, Bengaluru
Rosamma Thomas, Pune
Roshni P Nair, The Ken
SN Sinha, President, Indian Journalists Union (IJU), New Delhi
Sabina Inderjit, Vice President, Indian Journalists Union and International Federation of Journalists
Sahaya Teresa, Chennai
Sameera Khan, Mumbai
Samrat Chakrabarti
Samrat Choudhury
Sana Shakeel
Sandhya Srinivasan, Mumbai
Sandhya Ravishankar, Independent Author and Journalist, Chennai
Sandhya Taksale, Pune
Sanyukta Dharmadhikari
Sarika Ravindran, Times of India, Mumbai
Sarika Sharma
Shone Satheesh
Sarita Santoshini
Satyen K Bordoloi, columnist and scriptwriter, Mumbai
Shamik Bag, Independent Journalist, Kolkata
Sharda Ugra
Sharmila Joshi, Mumbai
Shefali Sadhu-Banerjee, Senior Producer, features and documentaries, ABP MAJHA, Mumbai
Shobhan, Mumbai
Shobana Rupakumar, Chennai
Smita Gupta
Smita Nair
Smita Ramanathan, Bengaluru
Sukhwant Basra, Chandigarh
Sumana Mukherjee
Sumita Jaiswal, Patna
Sunanda Beecha Mehta
Swapna Majumdar, Independent Journalist
Urvashi Sarkar
Vasanthi Hariprakash, independent journalist, Bengaluru

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