Forcing to resign because of pregnancy: Assam news channel’s way

NJ Thakuria

Guwahati: A city based satellite news channel comes under fire from
various media rights bodies and social organizations as its management
forced a reporter to resign as she attained pregnancy and requested
the editor for shifting her works to the news desk. The channel
authority bluntly declared that it has no provision for maternity
leave to women workers.

Taking serious note of the incident, a group of senior journalists
based in Guwahati have sought the intervention Assam chief minister
Sarbananda Sonowal to ensure justice for the scribe belonging to
indigenous Rabha tribe. They argued that the incident would send a
wrong signal against the recruitment of women in offices and it would
finally jeopardize the campaign for women’s empowerment in the
country.

Ranjita Rabha

Earlier, expressing deep shock and concern ‘at the manner in which
Guwahati based journalist Ranjita Rabha was forced to resign from her
position in Prag News’, the Network of Women in Media, India (NWMI)
called upon the National Commission for Women and the State Commission
for Women to take suo moto cognizance of the issue.

“Ms Rabha has been a journalist for 13 years and it is a gross
violation of her rights that she was forced to resign by the highest
authority of Prag News …,” said a statement issued by NWMI adding that
the incident is particularly distressing at a time when media houses
across India were effecting job losses, wage cuts and forced leave
without pay during an unprecedented lockdown due to the Covid-19
pandemic.

She as well as her elder brother, a popular theatre personality of
Assam, took to social media to detail how she had even offered to go
on ‘leave without pay’ so that she could rejoin work at the earliest
after childbirth. But the management instead asked her to resign
forthwith. Meanwhile, she informed that she has been deprived of
benefits under Employees’ State Insurance Corporation because of the
management’s fault.

“My sister is forced to resign from Prag News (Assam) because of her
pregnancy!!! Is there any law?” queried Pabitra Rabha in an anguished
facebook post. It has been reliably learnt that some other employees
of the channel were also shown the door recently as a cost cutting
measure due to the Covid-19 crisis. It is galling that some media
houses are doing precisely this, that too when journalists are risking
their health and working round the clock to gather and disseminate
relevant information.

“Whatever the reason, a lady scribe must not be asked to leave her
post because of a natural process of conceiving after marriage,” said
a statement issued by senior scribes Biman Chandra Hazarika, Rupam
Baruah, Manas Kumar Mahanta, Girindra Kumar Karjee, Mukul Kalita,
Sabita Lahkar, Nayan J Bhuyan, Biswajit Nath, Rajib Choudhury,
Digambar Patowary, Anjanil Kashyap, Anirban Choudhury, Dipankar
Devsarma and Ranjan K Barua.

They also observed that at a time when journalists are keeping company
with Covid-19 warriors at the forefront so as to keep people informed
of the unprecedented crisis, some media houses are displaying rank
heartlessness and irresponsibility. Finally they appealed to all media
persons, particularly women workers, to rise to the occasion so that
the discriminated scribe gets justice and also prevent any kind of
attitude and policies that create hostile environment at the
workplace.

Many other organizations namely Indian Journalist Union, North East
Network, Asom Mahila Sangha, Sadou Asom Pragatisheel Naari Santha,
Assam unit of Students’ Federation of India, State unit of All India
Democratic Women’s Association, etc also come out with media
statements arguing that her case shows the violation of rights and
entitlements of working women as envisaged in the Constitution (of
India) and the maternity benefit act of 1961.

Senior journalists seek justice for lady scribe

At a time when journalists are keeping company with Covid-19
warriors at the forefront so as to keep people informed of the
unprecedented crisis, some media houses are displaying rank
heartlessness and irresponsibility. In a recent incident in Guwahati
which has triggered widespread dismay among the journalist fraternity,
a married lady reporter of a TV news channel has been given marching
orders after she informed the management of her pregnancy and
requested transfer to the news desk.

Taking serious note of the incident, a group of senior journalists
based in Guwahati have sought the intervention Assam chief minister
Sarbananda Sonowal to ensure justice for the lady scribe. A national
platform for women journalists, Network of Women in Media, India also
called upon the National Commission for Women and the State Commission
for Women to take suo moto cognizance of the matter.

The lady reporter as well as her elder brother, a popular theatre
personality of Assam, too to social media to detail how she had even
offered to go on ‘leave without pay’ so that she could rejoin work at
the earliest after childbirth. But the management of Prag News, a
city-based satellite news channel, instead asked her to resign
forthwith. Meanwhile, she informed that she has been deprived of
benefits under Employees’ State Insurance Corporation because of the
management’s default.

“My sister is forced to resign from Prag News (Assam) because of
her pregnancy!!! Is there any law?” queried her brother in an
anguished facebook post. It has been reliably learnt that some other
employees of the channel were also shown the door recently as a cost
cutting measure due to the Covid-19 crisis. It is galling that some
media houses are doing precisely this, that too when journalists are
risking their health and working round the clock to gather and
disseminate news.

“Whatever the reason, a lady scribe should not be sacked because of
the natural process of conceiving after marriage,” said a statement
issued by Biman Chandra Hazarika, Rupam Baruah, Manas Kumar Mahanta,Girindra Kumar Karjee, Mukul Kalita, Sabita Lahkar, Nava Thakuria, Nayan J Bhuyan, Biswajit Nath, Rajib Choudhury, Digambar Patowary, Anjanil Kashyap, Anirban Choudhury, Dipankar Devsarma, Ranjan K Barua, etc.

Arguing that the incident would send a wrong signal against the
recruitment of women in offices and it would finally jeopardize the
campaign for women’s empowerment in the country, the senior
journalists also appealed to media workers, particularly women
workers, to rise to the occasion so that the discriminated scribe gets
due justice at the earliest.

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