How safe are women in media – Part II

21 Dec,2012

 

 

By Ananya Saha

 

Even as we brought you the views of women in news media on how safe they feel, yesterday (http://www.mxmindia.com/2012/12/how-safe-are-women-in-news-media/), we also got in touch with women in non-news fields to share their views.

 

Rita Verma

Media seems like a glamorous business. And probably it is, minus the harassments that go unnoticed or unreported. With stringent HR policies being put in place, it might just be a thing of past. We reported yesterday on how safe and unsafe women in news media feel in their respective cities. Today, we bring you the views of the females in non-news media.

 

The industry coherently believes that the country is getting unsafe for women. Rita Verma, Senior VP, Organisation Development, DDB Mudra, voiced her angst, “With all the current issues going on across the country no women feels safe. And in odd hours it only gets worst. It does not matter if you are in an urbanIndiaas all these major cases are happening in the major metros.”

 

 

‘Learning self-defence is important’

 

MxMIndia staffer Shruti Pushkarna weighed in: “As a working professional, I am pretty used to driving around the city on my own even in the late hours but yes, it would be wrong to say that I never worry about getting back home safely. There have been several incidents in the past when I have been stranded on the road with a punctured tyre or something else, and no one to help. This one time I remember, I was waiting for help to reach me and to be safe I locked myself in my car and then I saw a cop cross by, Hoping that he would help me, I rolled my window down to ask for his help, but he just told me, ‘Push your car to the corner of the street and stop blocking the road!” I was shocked and told him I had a flat tyre and needed help, but that didn’t seem to have any effect on him and he walked away saying it wasn’t his job!

 

“Well this was when I still had a car to lock myself in, a helpline car service which came to my rescue twenty minutes later, but it was worse a couple of years earlier when I had to use public transport to commute across the city. And my only hope then, were a bunch of safety pins I kept handy. Small things women carry around in their bags turn out to be useful weapons at times, and I have used those safety pins many a times to guard myself on DTC buses.

 

“In a previous job, we were provided with office cabs to go home from late night shifts. One night as I stepped into the car, a guard also joined us. I asked him if he was headed in the same direction as I was but turned out that the HR had decided to let a security guard (a man) travel with me and the driver (another man) for ‘my’ safety. I don’t know if it crossed anyone else’s mind but the only thought that crossed my mind was, “If the driver tries to rape me there’ll be another man to help/encourage him.” So I went and told the HR next morning that it’s obviously more difficult to guard myself against two men at the same time!

 

“The news is full of how rapists are on a power trip, how the police are inefficient, how the politicians and the government don’t take any strict action and so on. I feel the logical thing to discuss and perhaps propagate via national media, is the need for women to be prepared for these things. It’s important for them to learn self-defence methods and have self defence devices handy.  I for instance, took a short Krav Maga self-defence course. It’s an Israeli martial art form which helps you defend yourself and also teaches you to be more cautious and guarded against odd/dangerous situations. I think it’ll take a lifetime to change the men in our society so let’s start with the easiest and the most logical solutions.

 

Sagorika Kantharia

Sagorika Kantharia, Chief People Officer, Radio City 91.1FM, opined, “We really need to do something to make women safe in this country. Nowadays when you open the newspaper only thing you get to read is crime, rape cases, murder stories. Really ugly stories like father raping daughter, man throwing acid on woman’s face etc. One of the news reports on “Crime against Women” shows rape cases have grown by 30 percent since 2007, molestation cases have gone up by 52 percent and sexual harassment by 50 percent. I think the offenders should be punished with capital punishment in such cases of crime. Today women are working and demands of work is just increasing day-by-day wherein women have to travel outstation, work late hours at times how does one manage if the country is going to unsafe for women.” To make the women employees feel safe and protected, “At Radio City, we do have facilities for women employees who work late hours. Special arrangement like a re-imbursement for a private cab booked post 11pm etc. are provided for employees,” she said.

 

However, it is not difficult to guess how safe urban India is before 11pm.

 

Ambika Sharma

Ambika Sharma, MD and CEO, Pulp Strategy said, “Women in India are not safe, especially not post-dark. One has only to read the papers to realize this. Those of us in media who keep odd hours at work need to be extra cautious. Delhi in particular is not a place to be out at night, and its getting worse every year. If you are to be late at work ensure that the organization is responsible enough to drop you to your doorstep.” At Pulp Strategy, it is a rule that women colleagues be escorted to their homes if leaving office post dark. “I personally would not recommend public transport post sunset, its difficult but there is no other choice, safety comes first,” she said.

 

But there are bosses who do not care. Megha Swarup (name changed on request) works for a PR company in Delhi, said, “We are not given cabs unless it is for official meetings or media rounds. Since our boss is stringent with proper filing of papers, minutes of meetings etc, we usually get late in office. Our office is in a commercial complex that empties out by 7 pm. There have been times when we have had to ignore lewd remarks within the complex, but bosses do not care. And the bizarre fact is that our boss is a female. They do not even ask if anybody wants a lift to a certain point.” One of the female colleagues of Ms Swarup, gets picked up by her husband every single day after office.

 

Vivek Srivastava

But then there are bosses who do care. Vivek Srivastava, Joint MD, Innocean Worldwide, said, “This heinous crime has shaken us all. It has definitely made us reassess the security of our women colleagues once again. Ours is a professional space that truly accords importance, equality and respect to the efforts of the women folk. Advertising is a service industry driven by client imposed deadlines which can be difficult and late nights at office happen often. At Innocean we ensure that women take utmost precautions when working late. They are provided safe taxi services verified for their antecedents whenever they work late. In some cases the other office colleagues accompany them as well wherever routes are common. Moreover we do occasionally issue advisories to our colleagues to maintain their safety not just from sexual crimes but road rage, avoiding driving when under the influence of alcohol and avoiding over crowded places during times of alerts as well.”

 

Prerna Uppal who handles MTV Consumer Products at Viacom18 in Mumbai said, “I do not feel safe when I am travelling on a business trip especially to Delhi, Gurgaon and Noida. I usually wind up all my meetings before7pmespecially when I am travelling alone. I feel very unsafe and sadly, I end up ordering room service rather than experiencing the great gastronomy the city offers.”

 

 

MxM View

 

MxMIndia has a clear view on the issue of the safety towards women in the news media. The people who run the newsrooms – owners, CxOs, editors, team leaders, and commentators — must ensure that we provide for the safety of our women colleagues. We know that the world outside our offices – including our public transport — is unsafe. We also know that expecting people around to protect women is too much to ask as we discovered when a senior news journalist was mute witness to an excess on a Mumbai local train.

So, while it’s good to see the news media playing up the Delhi gangrape story, it’s critical that stiff laws are created. Our newsrooms must work towards taking care of the staff as they work odd hours.

 

If you think your newsroom or that of a friend is not taking good care of its women employees, write to us at editor@mxmindia.com. While we don’t guarantee a solution, we will take it up the bosses of the news media entity to ensure a better, safer world.

 

- Pradyuman Maheshwari

Editor-in-Chief and CEO, MxMIndia

 

Mumbai-based Lekha Saluja (name changed on request) manages corporate communications for a media house. She said, “I feel safe in Mumbai, no matter what time of the night. The roads are buzzing, there are people and I think it is largely safe. Having said that, it has to do a lot with me having my own car and driving. I am not sure the trains or the rickshaws will be as safe. Regular patrolling of the cops and better security is required. My office ensures late night travel for women employees.”

 

A corporate communications manager in Bengaluru for a media company (who did not wish to be named) said, “There is no security. But due to the cab pick-up-and-drop-facility that I have arranged for myself, picks me from my building’s gate and drops me to office gate, I feel safe. To each, its own, is the norm here.” Apparently, she worked in Delhi earlier and depended on male colleagues to go back home if leaving late from office. Echoing her thought is Bengaluru-based advertising professional, Astha G, who said, “The whole feeling of being safe in media is more of a mindset. HR does not provide any safety measures. Only your own methods can help you feel safe.”

 

Another corporate communication woman who works in Delhifor a news website, said, “What safety are we talking about? I have to catch hold of one colleague at least to go back with me when I drive back home late at night. Even though my office provides a cab post 8 pm, I do not feel safe going in one.”

 

Cab services are a precaution, which every organisation must have. While no one can make females feel safe on roads, it becomes imperative for organisations to take stricter measures for them. If they won’t, who will?

 

 

 

Post a Comment 

One response to “How safe are women in media – Part II”

  1. Sujit Sood says:

    All bosses and management is not same. Some offices take care of their womens and some not. But I think govt can make rule for working womens till night. Office provide cabs in Delhi Bangalore, Mumbai for night working womens. because private cabs are safe than buses, trains, rickshaws.

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