March 21, 2018

Former UNFPA accuses agency’s India chief, two other female employees of harassment

A former consultant at the United Nations Population Fund’s (UNFPA) Bihar office has accused agency’s India representative and two women staffs of ”character assassination and verbal abuse.” The complainant, Prashanti Tiwari, 30, has addressed a letter to External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj where she alleged that she was being harassed for furnishing evidence of misconduct by UNFPA staff which includes religious intolerance, conspiracies on sexual harassment at workplace.

According to the complainant, this occurred during her deposition before UNFPA HR Mission in November 2017. UNFPA consultant at its Bihar office last year, Tiwari wrote to Swaraj on February 2 apparently after she failed to get any relief from UNFPA. She has sought a waiver of legal immunity granted to UN staffers so that she can lodge a criminal case against the perpetrators. She wrote that the staff members should be tried in court.

United Nations Information Centre head in New Delhi, Rajiv Chandran had emailed that he is aware of the complaint but it will be “impossible for UNFPA to assess merits of the case” in the absence of “concrete evidence”. MEA too confirmed receiving an email from Tiwari and said that it has already been sent to ‘protocol division’. UNFPA is the same agency under wh the Android-based app against child marriage ‘Bandhan Tod’ was developed last year.

The team was lauded for the helpline app as a part of UNFPA’s Gender Alliance project against child marriage. Tiwari has accused Diego Palacios, UNFPA India representative of harassing her and also named Ena Singh, and the agency’s Bihar programme officer Pallavi Kumar of mentally harassing her with verbal abuse about her character, allegedly over her status of a single mother. She also mentioned that lodging a complaint against them is difficult since they enjoy legal immunity under UN provision. Tiwari said that she was left with no option than to approach the MEA for help.

Courtesy: Financial Express

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