A software Engineer has alleged that she has been sexually harassed by 43 of her colleagues at work in two years.
The woman who is in her mid 20s is working with a multinational IT services firm in Noida, with headquarters in Bengaluru, India. She is a resident of Ghaziabad and had been working in the Noida branch of the firm since 2016.
Noida sector-58 police have named 21 people in the first information report (FIR) while 22 others have been mentioned as “unknown” as the complainant did not know their names.
In the FIR, a copy of which is available with India Today TV, she told the police that several coworkers had harassed her and made sexual advances in the office since November last year. “In March-April 2017, one of my colleagues wrote in an office WhatsApp lunch group that I should sleep with him at his wife’s place. Later, another colleague called me and said that I was showing attitude. After 10-15 days, I exited the group,” she said.
In the FIR, she has also alleged that in December 2017, around 20 men from the office flashed their privates at her and touched her in an inappropriate way.
“A few of my male colleagues would touch my body. In the meeting room, they used to pass derogatory remarks against me. I was even asked to go for drinks with my male colleagues,” she has alleged.
Nearly 40,000 rapes were reported in the country in 2016, according to government data, despite a greater focus on women’s safety after the fatal gang rape of a student in Delhi six years ago that sparked nationwide protests and led to tougher laws against sexual abuse.
According to a poll of global experts released in June, India is the world’s most dangerous country for women due to the high risk of sexual violence and being forced into slave labour. At least 20 million women have left the workforce of Asia’s third-largest economy since 2005, World Bank data shows, partly due to poor treatment and harassment. Only 27 per cent now work. Activists say the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act that came into force in 2013 is not stringent enough.
According to the police, they have lodged an FIR in the case but they will verify the charges before making any arrests. “We have prepared a list of the accused and others working in the office who will be questioned. We are also collecting CCTV footage of the office as the alleged harassment took place inside,” said an officer.
India Today TV also tried to contact the company. The person who picked up the phone said: “I will check with the Noida office regarding the complaint and an official of of higher rank will get back to you.”
An email has also been sent on the official ID mentioned on the company’s website, but a reply was still awaited at the time of going to press.