The decision of the Prag News management to sack senior journalist Ranjita Rabha because of her pregnancy has been criticised severely.
Ranjita Rabha recently in a Facebook post wrote details as to why she had to resign from Prag News, where she had served for almost 14 years.
Without naming anyone she said in the post that she was “forced to resign” as pregnancy restricted her “agility” and the channel requires only “agile persons” as reporters.
Following her post, a lot of people have come to her support and they lashed out at the Prag News management for the ill-treatment meted on her.
In a press statement, the Indian Journalists Union (IJU) said, “The IJU expresses serious concern at the dismissal of the services of Ranjita Rabh by the management of Prag News AM Production Ltd.”
“Ranjita Rabha was reportedly asked to quit as she was pregnant and according to the management she will not be able to work properly as the management need more active and mobile people to run around,” the statement added.
“As claimed by Rabha, she took up the matter with the CMD Sanjiv Narain directly, who told her that ‘Prag News has no facilities for maternity leave and no salary will be paid’ and directed her to submit resignation,” the release added.
“Rabha maintained that she offered to go on unpaid leave, but her request was turned down, and finally, on May 5, she submitted her resignation under pressure,” the IJU added.
“Prag News channel management sacking Rabha is unacceptable and this is a clear case of gender discrimination,” the statement added.
The statement further said that sacking an expecting mother journalist who is in the frontline of the battle against COVID-19 at this critical period is inhuman and gender-biased.
“IJU demands the management of Prag News to immediately reinstate Rabha. We also demand that the company extends all facilities including maternity benefits to its employees as permissible under the law of land,” the statement added.
The Guwahati Press Club (GPC) has also urged the management of various media houses to stand-by its journalists at this crisis hour.
“The journalists have been p[putting themselves at danger to bring news right at everyone’s doorsteps,” the GPC said.
“The management of the media houses should stand by them and support them in every way they can,” the GPC added.
The Network of Women in Media, India (NWMI) has also expressed their deep shock at the manner in which Rabha was forced to resign.
“This incident is particularly distressing at a time when media houses across the country are affecting job losses, wage cuts and forced leave without pay during an unprecedented lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic,” NWMI said in a statement.
“These unethical and patently illegal actions have jeopardised journalists’ careers everywhere,” it further said.
Adding further it said, ” The NWMI deplores the manner in which a media organisation has failed to provide a basic right to its employees that they are entitled to under the law of the land.”
“The Maternity Benefit [Amendment] Act, 2017 clearly provides for paid maternity leave for women for 12 weeks, in addition to paid leave and extension of leave without pay or work from home facilities,” it added.
“The NWMI is shocked at the blatant disregard for the law by Prag News,” it further said.
“The NWMI strongly condemns discrimination against female journalists over pregnancy and motherhood,” it further added.
Listing out a set of demands, the NWMI said that the Prag News should reject journalist Rabha’s resignation and allow her to work with immediate effect.
It further said that journalist Rabha should also be allowed to avail the maternity leave to which she is legally entitled to the required period at the appropriate time.