This disturbs me.
Women account for about 40 per cent of the 350,000 call centres employees in India. IT sector bodies, politicians and the police have now urged companies to offer better security to BPO workers.
Should women work night shifts? Or do you feel the Bangalore murder is just a one-off incident of crime?
Do you think women employees in call centres are given adequate security? What can be done to ensure better safety of BPO workers?
The BPO sector has changed so many economic equations. While there are those who compare them to slave ships and there are constant quips about those work work in the BPO sector, the sector mostly puzzles people. It’s changing so many things about the way jobs are found and lost, that it makes people insecure. The profile of this new workforce makes people uncomfortable. While the argument offered in the US is a whole different deal, within India – it symbolizes the creation of the second wave of middle and upper-middle class.
Do we remember what it was like just fifteen years back when jobs were so rare? My father came back one day from office, looked at me and said -“There was a queue outside Krishi Bhavan today – people with MSc and MA degrees who wanted the temporary job for three months. The job profile is to fill the water coolers with water twice a day.”
I somehow get the feeling that the queue outside Krishi Bhavan would no longer be made of those with a graduate degree. But there’s one more equation that it’s changing – that of women earning. More than anyone else, the government finds it an uncomfortable idea. It means reorienting their campaigns, their strategies and their votebanks. Because it is less likely that they will sit down and enjoy their coffee breaks while reading news about strange dress-codes being forced on women in colleges. Because crime statistics against women will mean that half their votebank will actually JUDGE them on the basis of their ability to ensure a better law and order situation for women.
Why is that the issue – from the FAILURE of law and order situation has become one of VIABILITY of working latenight for a woman. Why is that we see the victim’s identity and job profile splashed wide, but the identity and the failure to do a security check on the driver is relatively under wraps? Why is it that the government is not committing itself to ensuring that women have their right to livelihood and right to equality (in order to access the former right), instead of sending around police to various BPO offices to ensure that when it comes to women – there is a “no first pickup – no last drop” transport policy? (Oh no.. Wait! That’s cause they’re too busy with changing the name of the city and all. Because that is just SO much more important than ensuring safety for half the population.)
Tell me, how can you ensure that a “no first pickup – no last drop” policy actually means that there is no crime committed. How is a woman supposed to trust her male colleague over the driver of a vehicle? We have pathetic laws for sexual violence. Considering that women get raped inside their homes (more often) than they get raped outside, will they next ask women to not live in their own houses? Out-dated, victim-blaming and punitive measures for the victims instead. If women get raped on the street at night – punish the rapist by keeping him off the street, not punish the woman by thwarting her right to be on the street! Instead of regulating the movement of women, why aren’t they regulating the transport sector?
Perhaps India needs a few Take Back The Night rallies. Maybe it sounds like rallies don’t and can’t achieve much. But they can and they do. Because it’s about making one’s presence felt. It’s about being able to do what you want without the fear of violence. Being able to earn your livelihood without worrying that you will get raped on your way back home. Because you also have the right to party through a Friday night without worrying about how safe it is to walk at 2 at night. Irrespective of your age or sex. Irrespective of where you’re coming from or where you’re going.