Northeastern youth in capital suffer harassment at work

December 29th, 2008 - 11:48 am ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Dec 29 (IANS) A help centre for northeastern youths living in Delhi and neighbouring areas says every week it receives three to four complaints about people being harassed at work and given the pink slip without prior notice.The Northeast Support Centre (NSC) is flooded with complaints, particularly from those working in the BPO and KPO (knowledge process outsourcing) sectors in places like Gurgaon and Noida in the national capital region.

“The support centre has been receiving three-four complaints about northeastern youth being asked to leave their job by the management without any notice every week. Educated but in search for better opportunities and far away from home, they don’t know who to turn to and approach us,” Madhu Chandra of the NSC told IANS.

This reflects a disturbing trend for the hundreds of northeastern youth coming to the capital every year looking for better opportunities.

The Delhi-NCR area has nearly 85,000 people from the northeast. More than 4,000 northeastern youth take admission to various undergraduate and other courses in Delhi University alone every year.

Chandra said they have registered two sexual harassment cases this year. But the number of complaints of people being asked to leave their job without any notice has been phenomenal.

This, however, is not a recent trend.

Girija Vyas, chairperson of the National Commission for Women (NCW), said the commission had written to the BPOs after receiving a number of complaints from northeastern women.

“Last year the commission has taken notice of a number of northeastern women being harassed by the management and asked to resign without notice in BPOs. We had thereafter written to the BPOs asking them to frame proper guidelines and strictly implement them.

“However, these problems have started cropping up again. We will have to take a serious look at it,” Vyas told IANS.

While the management in most of the BPOs refuse to comment on the issue beyond refusing the allegations, some former employees from the northeast confirm them.

“Initially my team leader was very nice to me. He helped me settle down in the new environment and used to crack jokes, but after some time there was a strange change in his behaviour,” said Lesly Singha from Mizoram who was given the pink slip from a BPO in Gurgaon three months ago.

“The last straw was when he started asking me come down to his place when his wife was not around, following which I gave him a piece of my mind. Since then he made my life hell…my report started looking bad and finally I was asked to leave. And I couldn’t do a thing,” she said.

In December last year, the NSC received a complaint from a girl from Manipur working as a receptionist in a private company in Gurgaon that her boss molested her in office.

One of the main problems in curbing the continuing problem, according to Chandra, is that mostly people don’t want to register their complaints.

“Most of these youngsters for whom this is the first time away from home don’t want to register their complaints because they think it would be an invitation to more trouble.

“Strangers in a new place, they would rather let the situation be and live in peace than take up the matter, go to the police if necessary and bring the wrongdoers to book,” he said.

“This however doesn’t help in putting an end to this problem. Sexual harassment and harassment at the hands of landlords similarly continue to be a big issue with northeastern youth because they generally don’t want to register FIRs,” Chandra added.

Lansinglu Rongmei, who hails from Nagaland and is a lawyer based in Delhi, said no one - not the members of the Parliament from the northeastern states or even the NCW - wants to take up such issues seriously.

“Until these youth come forward to take up their own cause, nothing is going to change. The awareness drives are there, but you have to realise that only you can ensure that you are not exploited - just like the two Manipuri girls who decided to speak up after being molested by their landlord in Gurgaon this month,” she said.

(Azera Rahman can be contacted at azera.p@ians.in)

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