AIDWA Demands Justice for Victims of Sexual Assault and Harassment

THE All India Democratic Women’s Association, in a statement issued on October 10, has expressed its deep outrage over the sexual abuse and trauma that a number of women in the field of media have suffered. Some of them have broken their silence recently and come out with shocking complaints of sexual harassment and assault against leading media personalities. It salutes the brave women who have come forth to challenge the prevailing patriarchal norms which indict the victim rather than the perpetrator in such cases. AIDWA condemns the attempts at character assassination and abusive trolling on the social media that seek to discredit the complainants, and browbeat them into continued silence. These anguished cries for justice have to be responded to by the legal system as well as by the society at large, to ensure that sexual predators who have largely been enjoying impunity in the prevalent male dominant power structure, are made accountable for their actions.

The BJP government has maintained an unacceptable silence on the issue of allegations of sexual harassment made against many leading personalities, including its own minister, MJ Akbar. There is no move to rein in, or criticise the BJP leader who has publicly denounced women coming out with their traumatic experiences as profiteers aiming to make money through these accusations. Such indifference to the plight of women who are subjected to sexual harassment is a telling indictment of the Modi government, and its attitude to women’s rights.

AIDWA demands that the Modi government take immediate action to ensure that the stringent law on sexual harassment at the work place, which became legislation in 2013 after a long struggle by women’s organisations and concerned citizens, is effectively implemented. FIRs must be filed immediately against all those men accused of sexual harassment and time bound investigation and appropriate punishment should follow. No person should be allowed to escape the consequences of his crimes by virtue of his position or authority. The setting up of anti-sexual harassment committees (Internal Complaints Committee) at the work place as mandated by law is still pending at different levels. This must be done urgently. Above all, a campaign to address the patriarchal notions underlying such acts of sexual violence and harassment must be launched, so that women are ensured a safe work atmosphere, and their constitutional rights to equal status are safeguarded in our democratic nation.

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