Tiruppur sexual harassment victims claim delay in registering complaints, fought cases without salary

Though the complaints were raised in early September 2021, the sexual harassment case was registered on March 3, 2022, after the Tiruppur court order.

Published: 06th March 2022 06:52 PM  |   Last Updated: 06th March 2022 06:52 PM   |  A+A-

POCSO, Rape, Sexual Assault

Image used for representational purposes (Express Illustrations)

Express News Service

TIRUPPUR: In a case of prolonged delay and extreme mental pressure, three poor victims of sexual harassment claimed their complaints were registered after six months in Tiruppur. The case pertained to former Kangeyam Municipality Commissioner Muthukumar allegedly sexually harassed three cleanliness workers in his house. During the fight, three victims were dismissed from service. Though the complaints were raised in early September 2021, the sexual harassment case was registered on March 3, 2022, after the Tiruppur court order. Meanwhile, the commissioner was transferred to Thiruthuraipoondi and later to Kalakkad in Tirunelveli.

Poornima (name changed), Vinetha (name changed) and Kaveri (name changed) - three temporary Sanitary Workers submitted a detailed petition to Tiruppur District Collectorate and later to AWPS (Kangeyam) on September, 21st, 2021. But, after six months, FIR was registered in All Women Police Station (Kangeyam) on March 3, 2022.

Narrating her experience, Poornima (name changed) said, "Many female workers are deployed as temporary sanitary workers in DBC (Domestic Breeding Checkers)in Kangeyam Municipality for the past eight years. I was asked by my supervisor Karthikeyan to clean the entrance of the Kangeyam Municipality Commissioner M Muthukumar's house located in Sakthi Nagar along Dharapuram Road. I couldn't refuse and took up the assignment with a few sanitary workers who were deputed on a rotational basis.

"On the day of the incident, Muthukumar asked to clean his toilets on the first floor. Obliging to his act, I went upstairs and he questioned about the caste and family background. Later, he asked about my physical relationship with my husband. I was shocked and refused to answer. In Order to escape from the house, I quickly cleaned the toilet. But, he grabbed my hands and attempted to sexually harass me. Immediately I warned him and ran out of the house on August 23, 2021.

"Later, fearing social problems and my rural background, I was stuck. Since this is my job and I didn't have any alternate source of income, I decided to remain silent for some days. Later, I shared the sensitive experience with my colleagues - Vinetha (name changed) and Kaveri (name changed).

"Upon hearing the incident, they also confessed that the Municipal Commissioner did attempt to sexually harass them. We reported the bad experience to all the sanitary workers and our supervisors. All of them were shocked by the incident. With the help and moral support of my friends, we decided to fight against the top official of the town."

Explaining the delay, she said, "After gathering courage, we filed a petition in Tiruppur Collectorate on September 22, 2021. The next day, an official from District Administration conducted an inquiry, but later no action was taken against him.

"Later, we protested against the Commissioner in front of Kangeyam Municipality in early September. Even we lodged a complaint in AWPS (Kangeyam) a number of times.  Meanwhile, the former Commissioner threatened us claiming to have political influence.  But we remained stubborn. After six months, a sexual harassment complaint was registered in AWPS (Kangeyam)."

Speaking to TNIE, Dalit Liberation Movement (DLM) secretary D Karuppiah said, "This is a clear case of prolonged delay, for three victims who have a poor family background. Since these were civil procedures, we couldn't get any immediate solution, we had to file an application in Tiruppur Principal Sessions Court in January 2022 and we received a Court order on February 21, 2022, to register the case against M Muthukumar.

"So, AWPS (Kangeyam) registered cases against him under various sections of the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe(Atrocities) Act 1989 and Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace Act 2013. Apart from this, three victims along with a group of cleanliness workers were dismissed from service in early September 2021. But, after the fight with the local administration, they were reinstated in their payroll in early February 2022."

Speaking to TNIE, Deputy Superintendent of Police (Dharapuram) R Dhanarasu said, "I don't want to comment on the prolonged delay and other administrative issues. As per the court order, we have booked the case of M Muthukumar and his worker Karthikeyan under these sections. There will be a complete inquiry on the entire sequence of the incident."


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