New Delhi, March 14 (IANS) India’s armed forces have punished seven of their officers, who were found guilty of sexually harassing women colleagues in eight cases reported since 2008, parliament was told Monday.
Defence Minister A.K. Antony said in a written reply in the Lok Sabha that of the seven officers punished after being found guilty during inquiries, three each were from the army and the air force and one from the navy.
“There will be zero tolerance for any case of sexual harassment or exploitation,” he said.
Antony said while there were four cases from the army and one from the air force in 2008, there were one from the navy and two from the air force in 2009.
Fortunately, there were no cases of sexual harassment of women officers in the three services in 2010 and none has been reported till date this year, he said.
Antony said the government had taken steps to check recurrence of such incidents in the future.
In the army, all commands were directed that cases of sexual harassment would be viewed very seriously and strict action taken against the perpetrators and commensurate punishment meted out to them so that the same acts as a deterrent for others.
“The environment has been sensitised in order to maintain a healthy and respectful relation with fellow or superior lady officers,” Antony said.
“An army order bringing about comprehensive instructions on the definition of the physical harassment and the procedure for taking action against defaulters has been issued to the environment for strict compliance at all levels,” he added.
In the navy, well laid down regulations and procedures exist and all naval personnel are sensitised regularly on the issue at various fora. The air force also holds various sensitisation capsules and workshops on the subject in training institutions and necessary orders on the subject are issued, Antony said.