A woman working as a cleaner in the Parliament had been trying to register a complaint of sexual harassment against her supervisor for the past six months but it was only in May that police finally acted on her allegations.
The woman has been employed since 2011 by BVG India Limited, a private housekeeping service given the contract for maintenance of several government offices, including the Parliament.
The woman has alleged that her supervisor would follow her to the bathroom she was working in alone, stare at her and talk in an inappropriate way,
In 2013, the woman began working in the Parliament Annexe, cleaning bathrooms. The supervisor allegedly harassing the woman joined the firm as a site in-charge in mid-2014.
On one occasion in December 2014, the woman said she asked the supervisor for chemicals to clean the bathrooms.
“He asked me what I would give him in return. When I told him that I could only return what I had been given to work with, he indicated that there were other things I could give him,” she was quoted as saying by the daily.
“When I asked him not to talk to me that way, he threatened to have me fired,” she said.
On another occasion, the supervisor approached the woman when she was working alone in a bathroom and made inappropriate comments about being able to see her body while she was working, the woman said. Following this, she complained to senior women at her workplace.
At the end of the year, the woman's Parliament entry pass was confiscated by the supervisor. She then went to the Connaught Place offices of BVG India and complained.
She was later transferred to the Lok Sabha. The woman also sent a letter to Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan in the first week of January.
At the end of April, the woman filed a complaint in the Parliament Street police station. On May 8, police registered an FIR under section 509 of the Indian Penal Code which deals with sexual harassment.
The complainant said she wants to fight for her rights. However, as a badly-off single mother, she remains in fear of losing her job.
“Even if a sexual harassment committee exists on paper in Parliament, the fact is that a vulnerable woman with no job security is not getting access to it or protection from it,” said her lawyer Monalisa, who runs The Alternative Space, a legal aid group.