Women vulnerable in India’s richest civic body

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Mumbai, Aug 16 (IANS) With average 29 cases of sexual harassment each year, the women employees of India’s richest and Asia’s biggest civic body — Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai — are a vulnerable lot, a RTI query revealed here on Tuesday.

The statistical data provided by the Complaints Committee of Women Sexual Harassment Prevention of ‘Savitribai Phule Women Resource Centre’ has indicated an alarming growth in sexual harassment of women in the civic body, said well-known Mumbai RTI activist Anil Galgali.

“Unfortunately, they refused to share the data regarding implementation of the orders passed by these vigilance bodies responsible for stopping sexual harassment, on grounds that the information falls under ‘restricted’ category,” Galgali said.

On the RTI query, MCGM Public Information Officer and Administrative Officer Rekha Kale informed Galgali that between 2013 and 2016, a total of 118 sexual harassment complaints were received.

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Of these, the PIO said 21 were filed in the current year, averaging around three per month till July, Galgali said.

From these cases, 96 per cent were listed as ‘cleared’, but four cases registered this year were shown as ‘pending’ in the MCGM records.

“However, they did not share information on those cases where the ‘action taken report’ has not been filed on the orders issued by the statutory vigilance groups, or whether those found guilty after inquiry were ever punished or not in all the cases ‘cleared’ since 2013,” Galgali observed.

Another fact that came to light was of 16 members on the vigilance committee in force since 2009, eight, including the president and secretary, were related to the medical field.

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In a letter to Municipal Commissioner Ajoy Mehta, Galgali demanded that the MCGM should name and shame all the officers or staffers who were found guilty in sexual harassment cases investigated by the statutory committee.

“Their names must be prominently displayed on the MCGM’s website and on all notice-boards with their photographs. This would act as a strong deterrent for others and fear of public reprisals will reduce future instances,” Galgali told IANS.

He further urged that the appointments on the statutory committee should be for a fixed tenure to ensure that vested lobbies do not get to control its functioning and allow utilisation of varied senior officers with experience for its work.



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