India watches yet another #MeToo incident as fifty-six women housekeeping staffers at the National Institute of Fashion Technology, Hyderabad, were expelled as they reported a case of sexual harassment. The institute sent them back to the agency they belonged to and now wants a replacement for them. All this came as a reverberation to sexual harassment accusations against D Srinivas Reddy, a stenographer with the institution. While he continues to work with the institution, all the 56 women have been thrown out of the institution. Some of them have been working in the institution for a decade.

“Srinivas used to sexually harass women employees who would attend to his cabin. He would hold the women staff by their hips, click their photographs without consent, and invite them home to sleep with him”

“Srinivas used to sexually harass women employees who would attend to his cabin. He would hold the women staff by their hips, click their photographs without consent, and invite them home to sleep with him,” Ratna Kumari, the supervisor, told The News Minute adding, “He became so open about his acts that he would directly come to me and ask me to send young and pretty women to his cabin. When I told him that none of the women wanted to work with him, he said that I have a good figure and asked me to sleep with him.”

This all began in October last year, when she lodged a complaint against Reddy, for sexually harassinghousekeeping employees. “This went on for a year during which two-three women staffers quit their jobs, unable to bear the harassment. When we finally decided to file a harassment case against Srinivas, he started threatening our contractor to restrain us from filing the complaint,” Ratna says.

According to the women, Reddy holds a good level of influence on the higher officials in the institute. Since the authorities didn’t support them, the women filed a complaint in the Madhapur Police Station in October last year.

According to the staff, Reddy would ask women staff to sleep with them claiming that his wife isn’t at home, using sexual expletives while speaking to them. The women also approached the authorities and told them about his misconduct with the women staff. Since the authority didn’t respond to their complaint, the women then decided to lodge a police complaint.  “Srinivas wasn’t authorised to look after the housekeeping services and I was puzzled. And never before have I received a complaint about any of my staff. I went to the campus the next day and enquired with Kumari about the issue. She and the other women told me Srinivas sexually harassed them, and that they are filinga complaint with the cops. I offered Kumari a job elsewhere, but she wasn’t ready to step back. She told me she wouldn’t resign because she had done no wrong.”, says Murali, owner of Murali Manpower Agency, who sends staff for housekeeping at NIFT.

According to the women, Reddy holds a good level of influence on the higher officials in the institute. Since the authorities didn’t support them, the women filed a complaint in the Madhapur Police Station in October last year. Even after seven months of being booked for sexual harassment, Reddy still is protected behind the walls of the institute. After this, new clause has been added in the tender notice for the housekeeping services on June 9. The clause reads: “Existing housekeeping staff should not be taken by the new contractor/agency. Contractor/agency should deploy all new housekeeping personnel.”

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