Our Special Correspondent
Thiruvanathapuram: No society can progress by ignoring & disrespecting women, needful steps being taken to end injustices & harassment of Women at Workplace, Chief Minister PinarayiVijayan tweeted on Jul 6, 2017.
Still, no respite for Women from harassment at Workplace. Interestingly the culprits get absolved and most of the victims are forced to reconcile.
Here is a classic case of on-going harassment of a senior lady casual worker, T Omana, employed with the state agriculture department. It’s sad; she is a serious cancer patient for the past two years.
T Omana (55) is employed as a casual labour with Biotechnology & Model Floriculture Centre (BMFC), Thiruvananthapuram from 2001, for over two decades. She was promoted as permanent casual labour in 2014 and posted in the laboratory attached to the Centre and was assigned with menial jobs like cleaning. According to Omana “things were hunky-dory” till a male officer took charge in 2019. “For reasons best known to the officer, I was constantly singled out and accused in abusive languages.” According Omana, she had repeatedly requested the officer to spell out “for what reasons I am being abused like this in publicly, in front of co-workers.”
Omana said, the harassment was with the sole intention of “shunting me out of my job so that he could bring in through backdoor one of his choice, influencing the top officials.”
Omana said “on multiple occasions I complained against the male officer who was using abusive languages that often outraged my modesty as a woman. But the Director level officers instead of taking action against the male officer I was served a charge memo -L W (1) 13865/19, signed by P K Jayasree, IAS, Director Agriculture Development and Farmer’s Welfare Department. The charge memo had raised some frivolous and concocted allegations against me.”
Omana alleges, that the concerned officials never asked her about “the allegations” before serving her the charge sheet.
The charge memo was served to Omana after she lodged a complaint with the director General of Police against the Agriculture officer who was “constantly using abusive language and insulting me in public.”
The content of the charge memo alleges that Omana was using abusive language against the Agriculture officer who is “accused of harassing and abusing” her.
Omana alleges that she has been denied natural justice for “neither before or after issuing the memo no official asked me about the charges levelled against me. They fabricated the charges and served the memo to protect the Agriculture officer who is the accused in my police complaint. I filed the police complaint because I was sure not to get any protection or justice from the senior officials.”
Oman, mother of two teenage daughters is under treatment for cancer for over two years. She was Diagnosed for Carcinoma Breast on 24/08/2019 by department of Radio Diagnosis, Medical college Thiruvanathapuram and referred to Regional Cancer Centre (RCC) for further treatment. On 28th November, 2019, she got admitted at RCC for surgery and her left breast was removed on November 30, 2019.
The treatment certificate from RCC signed by Dr K R Rajeev, Medical in-Charge issued on February 8, 2020 stated “Smt. Omana, CR No19E539, is under treatment at this centre (RCC) since 28 Nov-2019 for CARCINOMA BREAST” and “presently patient is on radiation treatment.”
Elaborating the uncaring approach of the authorities she said “I was not paid for months –from December from December 1, 2019 to March 16, 2020, during my treatment and hospitalization. My salary is the only income for our subsistence.”
Omana further lamented that as a recuperating cancer patient she never got any consideration from the department. “The doctors advised are to take proper break between the working hours, but sorry to say, the officers in charge never allow me to take any extra time. I had requested the officials many times to adjust my duty hours for medical reasons, but they never heeded my request. Even though my physical health is deteriorating I am compelled to work, for this is the only source of income for my family. I have to say that I am being constantly harassed at my work place.”
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission says both employees who engage in harassment and the organization in which the harassment occurred can be punished for this offense.
The Supreme Court has said in one of its recent judgments “The progress of any society depends on its ability to protect and promote the rights of its women.”