Activists stage silent protest, counter protest claims matter is resolved

On Thursday morning, a group of activists gathered around the Indian Institute of Management-Bangalore (IIMB) here in silent protest against the delay in responding to a written sexual harassment complaint made by a doctor in July 2011. This was after two verbal complaints were made in late 2010.

Parallel protest

While protesters held placards demanding justice for the doctor from the management, and questioning the delay in taking action on the matter, a section of what appeared to be employees of the elite institute came out to hold a parallel protest. A small crowd, their placards apparently in response to the activists’ placards, announced the matter had already been settled, and that there was no conflict to resolve.

The activists protesting on behalf of the alleged victim were led by the non-governmental organisation Vimochana. The doctor, who complained against the chief administrative officer at the institute, was removed from service months after she filed her complaint.

Officials tight-lipped

While IIMB officials remained tight-lipped on the issue — they included teachers, students and administrative officers — sources said that the IIMB protesters did not include any regular employees. In a terse one-line statement issued to the media, on request, the IIMB stated: “The entire processing of this case has not been completed. Once this is completed, all parties concerned will be informed and provided with relevant information.”

Misleading: victim

However, activists and the doctor, in her statement, point out that this claim is misleading. According to the complainant, after submitting a written complaint in July 2011, it took the inquiry committee over 10 months to file its report. After the report was completed in May 2012, it was submitted to the director in August 2012.

According to the IIMB’s rules, the Gender Sensitivity Committee is required to file a report within a month of filing a complaint, while the director is required to initiate action within 10 days. Repeated requests for the inquiry report by the doctor have been ignored, the complainant states in her letter.

‘Not isolated case’

The press statement adds that this is not an isolated case at the IIMB, and that the institute take immediate steps to provide a safe workplace for women employees. “If swift action is not taken, we will take the complaint to the Ministry of Human Resource Development, which governs the IIMB,” said Donna Fernandes of Vimochana.