Published: 19th June 2019
NIFT alumni start a petition to reinstate jobs of 56 staffers who were fired for sexual harassment complaint
The termination came after a group of close to 13 support staff staged a protest at the campus stating that they got no resolution for their complaint on alleged sexual harassment
The National Institute of Fashion Technology (NIFT) in Hyderabad has fired 56 female housekeeping staff recently after they complained against a staff member and accused him of sexual harassment. Some of these women workers who alleged that D Srinivas Reddy, a stenographer who continues to work at the campus and had sexually abused the women and used sexual expletives and connotations while speaking to them, has been employed with the institute for almost a decade. They were all thrown out despite their having followed due process. The institute has now asked the agency they belong to send replacements.
NIFT alumni have started a change.org petition to show support for the staff and stand up for them. "We all stand by in the support of justice to the staffers. With this petition, we hope that the Director-General and other higher authorities at NIFT will look closely into the matter and come to the right decision and take proper further action accordingly," the description reads on the petition website. An alumna, who wanted to remain anonymous says, "We are supporting the women in any way we can. We're trying to reach the Director-General in Delhi and we hope she will take some action."
The termination came after a group of close to 13 support staff staged a protest at the campus stating that there had been no resolution for their complaint on alleged sexual harassment. They stated that neither the in-house Internal Complaints Committee nor the complaint at the police station was taken up, which is why they had to stage a protest. "We have filed a complaint, some seven months ago, however till this date, nobody has helped us out. Four of our team members have been sexually abused by the professor," the supervisor of the staff told the New Indian Express.
"He became so open about his acts that he would directly come to me and ask me to send young and pretty women to his cabin. When I told him that none of the women wanted to work with him, he said that I have a good figure and asked me to sleep with him," a statement from the supervisor of the women housekeepers at NIFT said.
Activists for women rights in Hyderabad are also showing support to the women staffers. Tejaswini Madabushi, who works at an NGO and runs a group called Hyderabad for Feminism said, "I met the protestors on Wednesday morning while they were waiting outside the Labour Commissioner's office. They had already filed a complaint with the ICC but nothing worked out in their favour. The professor they have accused is still on campus and he allegedly also threatened them earlier that the women staffers will all be fired if they complain, Ratna, who was leading the protest told me. I spoke to Murali, their contractor, who just said that he was asked to terminate their contracts and send new people. On Tuesday when they were protesting, they were arrested and taken to the Gachibowli Police Station and when they came back to take their bags from the campus, the staffers were not allowed to enter. Ratna also showed us a register where it was clear that they had been doing their jobs regularly."