Techie rape leaves IT industry shell-shocked
Oct 24, 2013
HYDERABAD: The latest revelation that a city-based techie was abducted and raped by two cab drivers, has sent shock waves across the city’s IT industry. Campuses of major IT firms were abuzz with the horrifying news of the latest rape incident that has left many women techies worried about their own safety. A top women executive working with an MNC, who did not wished to be identified, said the mood on her campus was ‘sombre and cautious’ as people were seen wrapping up their work and heading home early in the evening. “Though I travel in my car, my husband has already called me thrice today… Even in the office, some one reminded me that I must charge my phone before heading out. No doubt, people are worried,” she said. Anindita, who works with an IT company in the city, said her campus too was abuzz with news of the rape incident. “It is very disturbing and after reading about the incident I feel so vulnerable… danger lurks everywhere. It could have been anyone among us,” she said. “It is shocking … my mail box was flooded with emails today. The entire IT industry is concerned. Hyderabad is regarded as a much safer city compared to other IT hubs in India such as Bangalore, Pune or Delhi but with such incidents occurring in the city, I feel one needs to be more careful,” said a shocked Ramesh Loganathan, vice-president of The IT & ITES Industry Association of Andhra Pradesh (ITsAP) as well as VP and managing director of Progress Software India. With such heinous crimes against women employees from the IT sector, the industry thinks it’s time to do more and ITsAP too is mulling reaching out to the city administration, mainly the police authorities, in this regard and thrash out the issue at length and arrive at solutions to the vexatious issue. The gruesome 2005 Pratibha Murthy rape and murder case in Bangalore was an eye opener for the industry after which it had initiated several measures to ensure the safety of its women employees. For instance, Microsoft in Hyderabad provides nodal pick-up and drop facilities and shuttle services from the MMTS station to its campus. The company even has dedicated escorts for night transport and uses a tracking app enabled phones to track the movement of vehicles, which in turn is directly monitored by the Microsoft Global Security Operations Centre. Infotech Enterprises Ltd global human resources and corporate affairs president Ashok Reddy, who is also currently the Confederation of Indian Industry Andhra Pradesh council chairman, too expressed shock at the latest incident and said that his company does not use cabs but buses for transportation as they are more safer for women employees. A proper background verification of the drivers is conducted as well. Similarly many companies such as Infosys, HCL, Progress Software have been conducting self defence workshops for their employees on a regular basis, ever since the Nirbhaya rape case of December 2012. However, despite such measures, loopholes persist and a lot needs to be fixed in this regard, feel women techies. “The mindset that it is relatively ‘safer’ during the day and hence companies need not provide cab facilities during day time has to change. Most of the IT firms provide pick up and drop facilities at night but I feel it is no longer sufficient. They must also extend such facilities during the day time to their women employees. Moreover, I feel these self-defence workshops cannot be a one-off thing anymore. It has to be made compulsory by companies,” Amruta Joshi from Yash Technologies said. Another woman techie, who did not wished to be identified, said that the practice of IT firms deducting around Rs 2,000 per month for providing cab services are to be blamed for forcing women employees, mainly at the junior level, to fall back on unsafe modes of public transport, “Most of the women who work in IT companies tend to live in hostels or PG accommodations that are situated closer to their workplace. They generally do not use company cabs as a certain sum is deducted from their salary if they use it. Hence, it is much cheaper to use public transport to commute but the problem is that it is becoming a risky proposition these days,” she explained.