Women’s rights activists have blamed Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) special women’s grievance redressal cell for not working properly.
Information obtained under the Right To Information (RTI) Act, 2005, reveals that the cell has not been meeting regularly ever since its formation in 2009. Activists complain that the cell is not doing enough to spread awareness about its existence and make it more accessible to women civic employees. While PMC chief accountant and president of the cell Ulka Kalaskar said that the cell meets only after receiving complaints, activists said that it should meet regularly and formulate a women-friendly workplace.
Women’s rights activist Kiran Moghe said, “The cell members must create awareness that harassment at workplace would not be tolerated. As harassment victims may hesitate to approach the cell, the primary responsibility of the cell should be to make access to them easy. The few complaints received by the cell show that many might not even know about the cell.”
DNA had applied under the RTI Act seeking information about the number of times it had met since 2009. In response, PMC stated that the cell had only one meeting in 2010 and failed to meet even once in 2011.
The cell was formed in 2009 by the then municipal commissioner Pravinsinh Pardeshi to address women’s complaints. In 2009, the cell met 15 times, with consecutive meetings in January, August and September. In 2012, the committee met 14 times during January, September and October. Admitting that the cell does not meet regularly, Kalaskar said, “When we receive complaints, we meet to resolve them. The civic body is in talks with various people to fine-tune its policy.”
Advocate Rama Sarode said that the meetings should develop a sexual harassment-free workplace for the organisation. “The members of the committee can decide the period between each meetings, but it must have a clear agenda. This committee should not only meet to help victims of sexual harassment but also to develop a strategy and a plan to take measures to prevent sexual harassment at the workplace,” she said.