Tourism industry to get safer for women

Jan 21, 2013, 07:30 IST | Urvashi Seth

Parliamentary committee to examine problems faced by women working in the sector; state tourism department asks individuals with any such experiences to come forward

With the Delhi gang rape incident bringing about major churning in the country, the Parliament’s Committee on Empowerment of Women (CEW) has now decided to ensure safety of female representatives of the tourism sector.

The committee will be visiting Mumbai later this week to review various predicaments women employed in the field face. Similarly, Maharashtra Tourism Development Corporation (MTDC) has written to individuals working in the sector, asking them to pen down any issues that need to be addressed in relation to safeguarding the interest of women in the industry.

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“We will be reviewing such issues, if any, that women are facing in their work surroundings. We have written to people in the tourism sector asking them to respond if they have come across any complaints,” said Dinesh Kamble, senior manager (development), MTDC.

Sources say the MTDC has asked all representatives of the sector to report any instances of harassment at workplace.
“We are conducting a basic review of how many women work in tourism sector, and if complaints have come from them regarding sexual, mental or physical harassment. We will be gathering details in this regard,” said a source from the tourism department.

He added that apart from gathering details, countermeasures would be devised to discourage any such harassment in the industry. “As per court order, we have formed a women’s cell to look into any persecutions faced by women working in the sector. We expect CEW to be in the city this week and will be discussing various matters that need to be addressed,”Kamble said.

The hotel industry has already pledged to the Code of Conduct for Safe and Honourable Tourism. The code is part of an undertaking the tourism department made hoteliers sign earlier this year. It obliges them to provide safety for women and children and make it top priority.  

As per the Supreme Court order issued in 1997, in the case of Vishaka, all citizens have the right to practice any profession, occupation, trade or business under Article 19 (1) g of the Indian Constitution. Vishaka established that a logical consequence of incidents, which result in violation of the fundamental rights of ‘Gender Equality’ and ‘Right to Life and Liberty’, is that it causes a violation of the victim’s fundamental right under Article 19 (1) g. The Vishaka guidelines recognise that sexual harassment is not just personal injury to the affected woman, but a violation of a woman’s right to equality at the workplace. The guidelines shift the onus for ensuring employees’ safety and gender equality to the employer and institutions, whether government or private sector. The employer is also responsible for implementing both preventive and remedial measures to make the workplace safe for women. 

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