New Delhi: Despite an increased perception of risk and unprecedented public ire over the gang rape of the 23-year-old physiotherapy student -who along with her friend was beaten up and thrown out of a moving bus on December 16 - some human resource companies in NCR say the capital's women's workforce will march on.
Rituparna Chakraborty, Vice President Indian Staffing Federation, told Firstpost that women continue to seek employment in the region.
"The fact is that rape and sexual abuse is a reality of life in Delhi NCR and large parts of North India and women seeking jobs in this part of the country have already factored in all these challenges," she said. "The truth also is, that rape and the abuse of women has nothing to do with work or what a woman does outside of home. We see 16-year-olds raped as much as 60-year-olds, so not working is not a solution or guarantee for not being violated and it should not impact the decision to take up a job," she added.
Jaideep Singh, spokesperson for Ikya, a human capital solutions company, agreed. He said that while the gang rape case has brought much focus on the issue of the safety, Ikya has not seen an impact in terms of hiring women candidates or jobs being declined by female candidates.
Chakraborty- also Co-Founder and Senior Vice President at TeamLease Services Private Ltd, a human resources company -- however said, that women employees have become more cautious and have begun asking more questions about the job and facilities they will receive in terms of pick ups and drops, work timings and hours, options of working from home, etc.
"Yes, women are a little more cautious about their rights, what they deserve and what is good for them, which I think is a good thing, one that nobody should forget," Chakraborty said.
While the case of the gang rape has prompted many women in the Delhi NCR region to take charge of their own safety, Chakraborty said that women working in and around Delhi, Noida and Gurgaon have usually always accounted for the challenge.
"Many women who work in offices here do not have the resources or option to give up on a job because of an incident like the rape - and they shouldn't even give up. They come from social backgrounds where they need to work or provide for a family or just for a better life. And, Delhi NCR has ample opportunity and lucrative jobs in this part of India," Chakraborty said.
OFFICES STEP UP SAFETY MEASURES
Following the incident of rape of the girl who succumbed to her injuries on December 29, many offices in and around Delhi NCR have issued advisories for its women employees and also seen a change in their attitude towards personal security.
While it is statutory for corporates, with the exceptions of business processing operations (BPOs) which seek special permission, to have limits on working hours for women, many companies are making sure that its outer limit for having female employees at work is 7 pm, Chakraborty said.
Chakraborty said that she has seen a lot of companies they service, shifting office timings and shutting by 5.30 pm-6 pm so that people can get home on time and before dark.
"Leaving office early has pretty much become a norm -- especially for women who can work from home. All across people and companies are also ensuring and taking steps to make sure employees reach home safely," she said.
Teamlease, which offers its clients services in hiring, hygiene and productivity works with around 450 companies in the Delhi NCR region, caters mostly to companies dealing in consumer durables, E-commerce, telecom, infrastructure, data and customer support. Chakraborty said that more than 400 of these have issued advisories for women employees.
Ikya's Singh told Firstpost that many companies they service were already accommodating women employees in terms of allotting women regular hour shifts, not having them stay on in office late and providing transport facilities.
"While the gang rape of the girl and her death has created a lot of waves and increased individual security awareness, many companies we work with have been accommodating women for a while now," he said.
A recent survey by industry body ASSOCHAM's Social Development Foundation (ASDF) found that 89 percent of the survey's participants said they have begun insisting on leaving offices on time, immediately after duty hours following the gang rape case and a heightened sense of insecurity.
The survey, whose sample size was 2,500 women across Delhi NCR and other metros, also cited that women who travel by buses, chartered buses, three-wheelers and metro are most susceptible to anxiety.
NO WOMEN QUITTING JOBS
The survey also said that productivity of the workforce has been affected and that one in three amongst the female worker has either reduced working hours after sunset or quit jobs after horrendous Delhi rape incident.
Chakraborty, however, said that TeamLease is not aware of any woman employee who has quit her job due to safety concerns. "Women employees must face a lot of family pressure if nothing else and there is definitely some change in their behavior, but nobody to my knowledge has quit work for the security reason," she said, adding, "Personally, I don't think once should quit. Doing that is only acknowledging defeat."
She also denied any drop in productivity.
"I don't think there has been any drop in productivity. It's not like people have been taken by surprise at the incident, as this has always been the reality. While rape case has been an eye opener, it's not new. it's a wake up call - but women have always been and are aware of the risk of moving around in Delhi NCR," she said.
The gang rape of the 23-year-old girl saw a fierce public outcry and protests against the state and government for failing to stem violence against women.
Five of the six accused have been charged with murder, attempt to murder, gang-rape, kidnapping, criminal conspiracy, dacoity, murder and unnatural sexual offences. The sixth victim , a minor, will be tried by the juvenile justice board.