Kochi: Women officials working in election squads are a harried lot with no facilities offered to them for meeting primary needs coupled with odd hour or 24 hour duties slapped on them. The top election officials are learnt to be showing no leniency towards them aggravating their misery.
Women officials are in field duty as assistant expenditure officers, static surveillance officers and members in the flying squad. They have to make surprise checks and nab poll code violators but they are finding it difficult to undertake the work in odd hours with males as rest of the members of the squad.
“In the flying squad there would be four people: a sub-inspector, one civil police official, one driver and the fourth member could be a woman official. Mostly panchayat secretaries and revenue department staff are deputed for this. Travelling in this all-men company gives us a sense of insecurity especially during odd hours since squads take turns to function in shifts to make the checks,” said an official requesting anonymity.
She said it was even more difficult to meet primary needs. “Vehicels of both static surveillance officers and flying squads are fitted with GPS and if the vehicles are redirected to guest houses or other places for going to wash rooms, we are questioned by higher polling officials why such trips are undertaken with scant regard for the difficulty being faced by the women. They say that we should be always seen within the vehicles,” the official said adding the election observer in Ernakulam Abu Sama too toed this line.
Three out of the seven assistant expenditure officers deputed in Ernakulam district are women and they are on 24x7 duty. “The misery faced by them is unimaginable and are fired in rude language for taking a break,” she said.