IWPC Statements
Statement issued on sexual harassment in the media (20th November, 2018)
The Indian Women's Press Corps expresses grave concern at the growing instances of sexual harassment in the media. The IWPC is equally concerned that narratives and complaints of sexual harassment at the workplace are often threatened by defamation as in the recent instance involving a senior woman journalist who detailed her harassment in a magazine. The IWPC recognises that sexual harassment at the workplace is a pervasive phenomenon and that women still find it difficult to report such instances, whether they have occurred in the present or in the past. The threat to use defamation can have the effect of dissuading women from complaining or compel them to withdraw their complaints.

The IWPC believes that there should be constant support and encouragement to women to speak out against the harassment they have faced. It also believes that proper processes of inquiry be initiated by the appropriate forums in all cases of sexual harassment at the workplace including in instances where the incident may be dated.

Media organisations need to send a strong message that there will be zero tolerance for such behaviour by not only setting up the robust mechanisms required under the Prevention of Sexual Harassment at the Workplace Act but also react proactively as and when such instances are reported.

T. K. Rajalakshmi (President)

Ravinder Bawa (General Secretary)

Journalist organisations condemn the dastardly murder of Doordarshan journalist. (Oct 31, 2018)
We, the undersigned journalist organisations, express deep shock and outrage at the dastardly killing of Mr Achutanand Sahu, a camera-person with Doordarshan in Dantewada, Chattisgarh. Mr Sahu was on an election related assignment in the Naxalite dominated area. He was accompanied with security persons when he and his team were attacked. The wanton attack in the Naxalite dominated area, also claimed the lives of two security persons. We express our deep condolences to the family of Mr Sahu and to the families of all those who died in the attack along with him.

It is deplorable that journalists and innocent persons continue to be victims of collateral damage in conflict areas and situations. Not long back, the media fraternity lost another of its colleagues, Shujaat Bukhari, who was shot dead in Srinagar.

We demand that the union and the state government concerned investigate the killing and take adequate measures to prevent such incidents that have devastating consequences. We hope that the union and state government will provide financial compensation and employment to the bereaved family of Mr Sahu that has suffered not only a great emotional loss but also lost an earning member of the family.

Indian Women's Press Corps, Press Association

IWPC condemns assault on media-persons in Sabarimala. (Oct 18, 2018)
The Indian Women's Press Corps wishes to express its deep shock and outrage at the assault on media-persons who were assigned to cover the entry of women in the Sabarimala temple, Kerala on October 17. The media-persons were on duty reporting the entry of women in Sabarimala as permitted by a recent Supreme Court order. As per reports, both television and print media journalists were set upon by protestors who were opposing the entry of all women into the temple. Journalists were heckled, equipment and vehicles smashed by the protestors at the Nilackal base camp. Vehicle checks by vigilante groups intimidated and obstructed the movement of media personnel present on duty. At least four women journalists were physically attacked and abused.

While the state government made arrangements for women to enter the temple as per the Supreme Court order, it is shocking that not only did certain elements brazenly violate the order by not allowing women to enter but also attacked media persons who were present at the spot as part of their official assignments.

We urge the state government to book the culprits involved in the intimidation and assault of all the affected media-persons.

Sincerely yours,

T. K. Rajalakshmi
(President)

Ravinder Baea (General Secretary)
IWPC letter to Mr Rajnath Singh,Chairperson NCW and Ms Maneka Gandhi regarding the complaints of sexual harassment in the media. (Oct 16, 2018)
Dear Member,

Please find attached 3 separate letters addressed one each to Mr Rajnath Singh, Chairperson NCW and Ms Maneka Gandhi sent by the IWPC regarding the complaints of sexual harassment in the media.

Regards,

T.K Rajalakshmi
(President)

Ravinder Bawa
(General Secretary)
Joint statement issued on behalf of journalist organisations. (Oct 15, 2018)
We the undersigned journalist organisations have been deeply concerned over the overwhelming complaints of sexual harassment in the media. We recognize that sexual harassment at the workplace is a worrisome reality and that media organisations and managements have been unable to put the systems in place which would have ordinarily addressed complaints of sexual harassment.

We are also deeply disappointed at the statement issued by Mr M J Akbar, Minister of State in the Ministry of External Affairs. wherein he has threatened legal action against all those who have alleged they were harassed by him. Mr. Akbar is a senior functionary of the government and his response should reflect the responsibility that is thus bestowed on him. There can be no dispute about the need for an impartial probe into all the complaints without fear of threat or intimidation to the complainants - and this acquires particular significance if one of the accused is an influential minister in the government. In the interests of a fair probe, moral and public propriety, it would only be appropriate that the minister step down from his post till such time as the inquiry is completed. We are disappointed that Mr. Akbar did not choose to take this step instead of threatening the complainants with legal action.

An impartial probe should be conducted into all the complaints without fear of threat or intimidation to the complainants more so as the accused party is an influential minister in the present government. We also feel that in the interests of a fair probe, moral and public propriety, it is only proper and appropriate that the minister step down from his post till as such time the probe is completed.

Sexual harassment at the workplace is a pervasive phenomenon. It has continued with impunity despite the enactment of a tough law to prevent, prohibit and redress it, The inability of women to speak out about such harassment needs serious introspection and redress. We hope that employers in media organisations and the government will look into this with the seriousness it deserves and not treat the incidents as motivated complaints.

Indian Women's Press Corps, Press Club of India, Press Association, South Asian Women in Media
Indian Women's Press Corps statement on sexual harassment in the Indian media (October 10, 2018 )
The Indian Women's Press Corps expresses deep concern over the spate of instances of sexual harassment faced by women journalists across the media. The IWPC extends its support to all the women journalists and women employees in the media who have faced sexual harassment by their co-workers and superiors and have had the courage to speak out.

The fact that many of the complaints have gone unheard despite being brought to the notice of the appropriate authorities is disturbing and a matter of grave concern. It is also reflective of a systemic malaise where despite the enactment of the Sexual Harassment of Women at the Workplace (Prevention,Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013, the committees required to address these complaints and grievances are either not properly constituted or simply do not exist.

It may be pointed out that all media organisations have a legal obligation to set up Internal Complaints Committees in every branch office and disseminate information about what constitutes sexual harassment as well as the venues to seek redress. The phenomenon of many women journalists speaking out through the social media has arisen precisely because of either the absence or the abject failure of robust institutional grievance redress mechanisms that ought to have been readily available to the complainants in the first place. The emphasis, within the Act, is on prevention rather than punitive action, therefore the measures for such prevention have to be in place as a matter of conscious organizational policy. There ought to be zero tolerance for any form of inappropriate behaviour towards women employees. More fundamentally, the regular sensitisation of all employees towards what constitutes "welcome" and "unwelcome behaviour" is a prerequisite for a safe and secure work environment.

Every woman employee has the right to work in an atmosphere free from any kind of harassment and hostility and employers have a responsibility to ensure the safety and security of women employees in particular. It has been recognised that such harassment has health, economic and social consequences apart from affecting the productivity of the aggrieved employee at the workplace.

Given the pervasiveness of sexual harassment in the media, we demand that employers set up the institutional mechanisms mandated under the law so that every woman employee in every media organisation has recourse to redress as and when the occasion arises. We also urge women employees to take recourse to the system of redress and the processes involved in order that their grievance is addressed by the appropriate forum.

Sincerely yours,

T.K.Rajalakshmi (President)

Ravinder Bawa (General Secretary)
Journalist organisations decry RNI cancellation of Daily Desher Katha
(October 2, 2018)
We the undersigned journalist organisations express our deep concern on the cancellation of the registration of a Tripura based Bengali newspaper "Daily Desher Katha" on October 2, Gandhi Jayanti. Desher Katha which has a forty year old history is one of the oldest dailies to be published from the region and is the second largest selling newspaper in the state.

The stated reasons for the cancellation following an alleged mismatch between the declaration of the published details of ownership and actual ownership appear as extreme as the move has the potential of rendering thousands of employees jobless apart from being an attack on the freedom of the press and denying the public the right to information.

We urge the Registrar of Newspapers to revoke its order based on the seemingly arbitrary recommendation of the West Tripura District administration,and to conduct an independent impartial inquiry into the alleged anomalies, if any. The move to cancel the registration, we reiterate is extreme.

Sincerely yours,

Indian Women's Press Corps, Press Club of India, Press Association
"An irreplaceable loss to the journalist fraternity" - IWPC pays its respects to Mr Kuldip Nayar (1923-2018) (AUGUST 24, 2018)
The Indian Women's Press Corps deeply condoles the passing away of Mr Kuldip Nayar on August 23. He was 95 years old.

Mr Nayar was one of a kind among journalists. He stood tall for standing by what he believed in all throughout his career. An untiring civil liberties activist and one who was committed to the idea of a secular India, he lent his voice to all such causes over the decades. Nayar "Sahab" as he was respectfully addressed as, continued to do so, despite his failing health.

Above all, he was a strong advocate of the freedom of expression, the freedom of the press and was deeply concerned about the commercialisation of the Indian media in recent years and the shrinking freedoms of the working journalist at the workplace. He was equally concerned about incidents involving attacks on the media, harassment of journalists and spoke out at various public meetings organised by journalists.

Mr Nayar was also a staunch supporter of gender justice and human rights. He remained deeply conscious of the deep rooted inequalities in Indian society. His writings in multiple languages exemplified these concerns.

IWPC members recall his steadfast support at the time of the formation of the IWPC. This was a reflection of his commitment to social, economic and gender equality. His passing away leaves a vacuum which can never be filled.
Statement issued on World Press Freedom Day (May 3, 2018)
On the occasion of World Press Freedom Day, the undersigned media organisations express their deep concern at the increase in attacks on journalists globally as well as in India. According to the World Press Freedom Index 2018 prepared by the Reporters Without Borders, India ranked 139 in a list of 180 countries, falling behind its South Asian neighbors.

The killings of nine journalists in Afghanistan has further exposed the risks that journalists face in the line of duty in strife torn zones. It is important to note that media-persons face deep hostility even in advanced liberal democracies. The growing climate of intolerance and conservative policies in general have added new dimensions threatening the physical security of journalists. The proliferation of hate messages, speeches and trolling of journalists including the highly sexualised forms of abuse on the social media directed at women should be viewed as part of an overall context of growing intolerance towards a diversity of opinion.

While a threat and fear free environment is imperative for an independent, fair and free press, the freedom of the press cannot also be assured in a media environment characterized by rampant economic insecurity. The majority of journalists like the informal unorganised sector lack social protection, rights at work and decent working conditions. The commercialisation of the media and corporate control of media organisations threaten the survival of a free press and democracy itself.

World Press Freedom Day is an occasion and an opportunity to contextualise the present challenges facing the journalist community the world over.

Issued by

Indian Women's Press Corps, Press Club of India, Press Association and the Federation of Press Clubs of India.
Joint statement (April 3, 2018)
The undersigned journalist organisations and individuals express their deep concern at the press release issued by the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting of April 2 whereby an accredited journalist's accreditation would stand suspended or cancelled if he or she was found having "created or propagated" fake news. The press release further gave powers to the Press Council of India in the case of print and News Broadcasters Association for the electronic media to look into complaints and "determination of fake news". Pending such inquiry, a journalist's accreditation could be suspended temporarily and upon confirmation that such news had been purveyed, it would be suspended for six months or permanently cancelled in the eventuality of repeated violations.

As these concerns and the consequences for a fair and free media were widely reported, discussed and commented upon, we have learnt that the Ministry has withdrawn the said guidelines for accreditation of journalists to regulate fake news today, i,e, April 3. We welcome and appreciate the retraction as it is in the interests of protecting the independence of the Fourth Estate.

We wish to point that the journalist community is as concerned as the public regarding the purveying of fake news, which has the very potential of altering and subverting the character of Indian democracy. While the misuse of any form of technology is a constant concern, distorted, fake news or false information meant to create disharmony, create social divides or defame individuals or groups are already covered by the statute books.

We would also like to point out that the Press Council of India was primarily set up to protect the freedom of the press, not to clampdown on it, and to maintain and improve standards of newspapers and news agencies in the country. Its twin responsibilities also include helping newspapers maintain their independence and build a code of conduct for journalists and newspapers in accordance with high professional standards. The NBA too is entrusted with laying down and fostering high standards, ethics and practices in news broadcasting and entertainment industry.

There is ample scope for introspection and reform of journalistic practices; yet, a government fiat restraining the fourth pillar of our democracy is not the solution.

We congratulate the media community for taking a unified stand on this issue.

Press Club of India, Indian Women's Press Corps, Press Association, Federation of Press Clubs of India.
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