Eclipsing women’s rights: sexual harassment at Sun TV — statements of NWMI, IFJ and Sun TV
On March 27, Chennai-based Sun TV news anchor S Akila was suspended when she complained of sexual harassment. NWMI has called for Akila’s immediate reinstatement, an independent inquiry into the case and the setting up of formal mechanisms to redress sexual harassment at Sun TV. The International Federation of Journalists also bats for Akila. Read the statements by NWMI and IFJ, the response from Sun TV’s legal counsel — and NWMI’s reply.
NWMI’s statement, March 28, 2013
The Network of Women in Media, India, an independent forum of media professionals across the country, condemns the continued victimisation of a complainant of sexual harassment, and demands her immediate reinstatement. We also demand an independent inquiry into the case and the setting up –as required by law– of formal mechanisms to redress sexual harassment at the Chennai-based Sun TV.
S Akila joined Sun TV Chennai in December 2011 as a news anchor/news producer. Ever since she joined, V Raja, the Chief Editor, and Vetrivendhan, the Reporters’ Co-ordinator, indicated that the confirmation of her job and subsequent pay rise depended on the ‘compromises’ she was willing to make. This was apparently not the first time they had made such demands, but due to the hostile and intimidating atmosphere at the office, few women had been able to resist. As a result of her refusal to concede to their demands of sexual favours in return for job security and pay hikes, her confirmation remained pending even after completing the six-month probationary period.
Reply by Sun TV’s legal counsel, March 28, 2013
At the outset, I submit that the allegations in the press statement against the company are totally false and baseless. The press statement has been issued unilaterally without proper verification of facts and without even ascertaining the truthness from us.
NWMI’s reply to Sun TV’s legal counsel, March 30, 2013
This is in response to the e-mail dated 28.03.2013 sent to us by Mr J Ravindran, counsel for Sun TV, in which he claims that the allegations against the company in our press statement, Eclipsing Women’s Rights: Sexual Harassment at Sun TV – NWMI demands immediate reinstatement of Woman Journalist dated 28.30.13, are “totally false and baseless”.
We would like to bring to your notice the following:
1. The “Code of Conduct” of the Company demands “Strict compliance with applicable laws, rules and regulations. The Board and the senior management are expected to comply with all applicable laws, rules and regulations in letter and spirit.” However, Sun TV Ltd. appears to have blatantly flouted the orders of the highest court of the land, namely the “Vishaka Guidelines against Sexual Harassment at Workplace Guidelines and norms laid down by the Hon’ble Supreme Court in Vishaka and Ors Vs. State of Rajasthan and Others (JT 1997 (7) SC 384) (hereinafter the ‘Vishaka Guidelines’).
International Federation of Journalists’ statement, April 4, 2013
The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) joins partners and affiliates in demanding justice and fair treatment for S Akila, a journalist placed under suspension by the Sun TV news channel based in the southern Indian city of Chennai, after she filed sexual harassment complaints against two of her seniors in the organisation.