Women staffers welcome police orders on pick-and-drop

New Delhi, Dec 10 – Women employees of call centres, media organisations and corporate firms feel the Delhi Police guidelines for their employers to ensure their safety through better pick-and-drop facilities are a much needed step.

‘This was much needed to ensure security while returning home late at night. It is totally the responsibility of the employer to make sure that the women employees reach home safely after their graveyard shifts,’ BPO employee Arunima Mena, hailing from Assam, told IANS.

Delhi Police issued an order Thursday, making it mandatory for call centres, media houses and corporate firms to drop their women employees at their doorsteps.

Employers violating the order are liable to be punished under Section 188 of the Indian Penal Code (disobedience of an official order), which entails imprisonment up to six months or a fine of Rs.1,000 or both.

Women in the capital welcomed the move to punish employers who violate the order.

‘Legal measures such as punishment become necessary because women employees are often taken for granted. Why wait for a woman to be abused in any form?’ said Saasha Lakhanpal, 24, working as a news producer with a media organisation in south Delhi.

The order comes after the kidnapping and gangrape of a 30-year-old BPO employee by five men in Dhaula Kuan area of south Delhi Nov 24 after her office cab dropped her at a distance away from her home at 1.30 a.m.

The police also ordered the companies to deploy a verified security guard to travel with women staff in the cab during night, and that the pick-and-drop route should be carefully drawn up.

‘The corporate companies, BPOs and media companies are supposed to ensure the safety of their employees during the duty hours of the staff. Women are more vulnerable during odd hours of graveyard or late night shifts,’ said a senior police officer from Delhi Police, not defining the night hours.

Some employers were not ‘properly monitoring’ the cab operators hired for ferrying their workers, the officer added.

‘As far as maintaining the database of all employees, security personnel and other workers is concerned, many BPO companies have been doing that,’ said an official of the National Association of Software and Service Companies (NASSCOM), the apex trade body of the IT-BPO sector.

‘But those who have been following poor transportation facilities need to step up the norms,’ the official added.

‘Cabs are provided by most of the employers during late night shifts. What matters are stricter rules on pick-and-drop spot, a verified security guard in the cab, and other arrangements,’ said Antara Minocha, working with a news production company.