Now, working class women join the #MeToo movement

Now, working class women join the #MeToo movement

Activist Geeta Menon addresses garment and municipal workers at a #MeToo dialogue at the Kannada Bhavan in Bengaluru on Saturday. DH PHOTO

 As celebrities and journalists spoke out against their predators in the #MeToo campaign, working women cutting across all sections in Bengaluru have now come out in the open.

At a gathering on Saturday, they poured their hearts out on the sexual harassment they suffered.

Women representatives from the Garment and Textile Workers Union, Stree Jagruti Samiti, BBMP Guttige Pourakarmikara Sangha, workers federation of KSRTC, BMTC, NEKRTC, NWKRTC and representatives from transgender communities spoke about how they are harassed by superior officers, managers and members of the public.

Sana, transsexual and programme manager at Ondede, said members of her community do not have any protection against sexual harassment.

"When transsexuals complain about sexual harassment to the police, they treat us like we deserve it and are born to get sexually harassed," Sana said. "I have been sexually harassed by the public and even my bosses when I was working in the media industry. I had filed complaints before the Vishakha committees of the media organisations that I worked at, but no action was taken," she added.

Domestic workers, too, have fallen victims to sexual harassment, especially at apartment complexes in the city.  

"My house owner's son molested me once when I was sweeping the floor at their apartment. I was removed from work when I complained," said Tahira, who used to work as a domestic help.

Supported by the All India Progressive Women's Association, the domestic workers demanded that there should be an inquiry and monitoring committee at apartment complexes. 

They have it the worst... 

Women bus conductors are among those most victimised. "I have been a BMTC conductor for a few years now. There have been many instances when men have touched me inappropriately. I have raised my voice several times, but nothing changes and it continues to happen. I also have to deal with drunkards in the bus," said a woman conductor, who did not wish to be named.

"Local authorities like the BBMP and BMTC have Internal Complaints Committees, but most workers are unaware of this. The Local Complaints Committee, as mandated to be set up under the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013, remains only on paper only," said advocate Mytreyi Krishnan.

The All India Progressive Women's Association will prepare a report with the details of the discussion on Saturday and submit it to the Department of Women and Child Development, the Internal Complaints Committees of the BBMP and BMTC, and the Karnataka State Commission for Women in a few days, and will seek necessary action. 

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