Woman in ICU; took step as she feared retribution from superior

A sanitary worker in the Railway hospital in Perambur consumed rat poison fearing retribution as she had rejected the sexual advances of her supervisor.

She was admitted to the hospital and is currently undergoing treatment at the intensive care unit.

Union staff members gathered outside the hospital demanding action against the health inspector, A. Nagaraj.

According to Muthu, a hospital committee member, the 35-year-old widow, who had been appointed as a ‘safaiwala’ on compassionate grounds after her husband Daniel’s death, was found unconscious in the health inspector’s room. “The worker realised that she had consumed three packets of rat poison. We admitted her to the hospital where she underwent stomach wash,” he said.

On several previous occasions, Nagaraj, who supervises the cleaning of the medical director’s room, had made lewd remarks and a couple of days ago he had made sexual advances, which she rebuffed. Angered, Nagaraj apparently began calling her names and on Friday, tried to sexually assault her.

The woman lives in the railway quarters and fearing retribution, consumed poison.

As news spread, the Dakshina Railway Employees Union staged a demonstration seeking action against its health inspector. They were soon joined by the Working Women’s Organisation, a wing of the CITU and affiliated to the All India Democratic Women’s Association.

“They wanted the medical director to suspend the health inspector but as she was not there, other senior officials said that the matter must be presented before the higher officials who are stationed at the Southern Railway Headquarters near the Central Railway Station.

Meanwhile, the ICF police recorded a statement from the woman who, according to the police, did not say anything about sexual harassment but only admitted to consuming rat poison.

R. Manimegalai, State committee member of the Working Women’s Organisation, said there was no one when the police took the statement from the woman. “We said we will be there when the police take the statement from the victim but they denied permission. On Saturday, we will be staging a demonstration to protest against the recent incident in Delhi and against this incident on Vellalar Street,” she said.

Mr. Muthu and Ms. Manimegalai said the woman had signed a written statement that Nagaraj had made sexual advances which she rejected. She had sought suspension of Nagraj.

According to them, a segment of employees protecting Nagaraj had initially issued a statement of suspension without specifying the cause. After the union employees demanded stringent action, the administration officials of the hospital amended the suspension order to include the cause, sexual harassment.

However, Nagaraj has been admitted to the railway hospital for treatment of alleged injuries, Ms. Manimegalai said.

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