Productivity levels fall as rape cases trigger panic

Productivity levels of women IT workers in Bangalore has fallen by one-third since the recent rash of rape incidents, according to a survey conducted by the Social Development Foundation, an arm of the Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry (Assocham). “Bangalore is the worst-affected Indian capital,” it reported.

The results of the survey, which was also conducted in Chennai, Mumbai, Hyderabad, Pune, Ahmedabad, Lucknow, Jaipur and Dehradun, reveal that fear among women workers is the highest in the city that prides itself as the country’s IT capital.

The survey indicated that a significant proportion of the 1.5 lakh women employed in the 1,800 Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) and IT-enabled Services (ITeS) units in Bangalore are, since the recent rape and death of a woman in Delhi, leaving their workplace early. Close to 90 per cent of the respondents said they were insisting that they be allowed to leave early because of the “atmosphere of insecurity.” Women who travel by buses, chartered buses, three-wheelers and the metro “were most anxious” to return early, it said.

More than two-thirds of the respondents described the “atmosphere” of their commute to workplaces as ‘bad.’ Less than one-fourth described conditions as either ‘good’ or ‘satisfactory.’ The survey revealed that long commutes to workplaces by women exposed them to danger. Significantly, nearly two-thirds of the respondents said their two-way commute from home to their workplace and back was more than 50 km; for 26 per cent of the respondents the commute was more than 25 km.

Assocham secretary-general D.S. Rawat said the attrition rate among women in the BPO and ITeS segments was increasing rapidly. “Security is one of the major concerns for the women who are working in the BPO, KPO and ITeS sectors.” The “odd hours of work,” the commutes to long distances exposed women to “dangerous situations” such as instances of rapes, molestation and murders in the city.

Mr. Rawat pointed out that safety of women was particularly critical because women accounted for almost half the industry’s workforce. Significantly, almost 40 per cent of the women workers surveyed said they were not satisfied with “the security arrangements within and outside their workplace.”

Significantly, none of the women who said they had encountered harassment reported it to the police. “Violence experienced by women while travelling by public transport never enters the crime statistics, even though it is rampant,” Mr. Rawat noted.

Assocham suggested the establishment of a nationwide 24-hour helpline. A victim could send an SMS to the employer and the police headquarters.

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