6 July 2015

Sub: Indian Women's Press Corps expresses concern on untimely deaths of journalists and deteriorating working conditions

The Indian Women's Press Corps expresses its deep concern over increasing reports involving the untimely deaths of journalists and the mysterious circumstances involved in some of the cases. The untimely death of Akshay Singh, a young television reporter with AajTak, who was in his mid thirties and on assignment in Madhya Pradesh has drawn attention and concern to several hitherto unnoticed aspects. His death is one among the many allegedly mysterious deaths that have occurred in the inquiry currently underway. Any doubts about the cause of the death of Akshay Singh should be dispelled with by conducting an impartial inquiry involving an independent agency. The employer should also adequately compensate his surviving dependents.

The IWPC notes that journalism continues to attract a large number of people each year including women. But the facilities provided by employers continues to be very rudimentary even as risks at work have increased manifold times.

While creches, day care centres or proper rest rooms for women journalists are absent in several organisations, with women television correspondents having to face long hours on the road without access to any rest room facilities, which takes a serious toll on their health, the lack of risk insurance in general for all is absent. While the risks on the field have increased for all reporters given the deterioration in law and order conditions in general , employers are known to display a distinct lack of empathy where it comes to occupational hazards. In addition, the flagrant violation of the Wage Board award still continues. The Labour departments of states and the central ministry which are the implementing authorities maintain a studious silence as employers find ingenuous ways of circumventing the award that has been upheld by the highest court of the land.

Given such precarious conditions of work and insecure terms of employment, it is little wonder that journalists are rendered most vulnerable as they have little protection either from their employer or from the government. It is high time that these concerns be looked into by all concerned sections.
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