June 17, 2015 / 2:08 PM / 4 years ago

Greenpeace India admits failures after staff claims of rape, sexual harassment

NEW DELHI (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Greenpeace India has admitted it failed to create a gender sensitive environment for its workers, and apologised for its handling of a sexual harassment complaint by a female staff member while acknowledging the alleged rape of another woman.

The environmental group, which is already embroiled in a legal battle with the government over questions on its funding, said an internal review found lapses in how it dealt with crimes against women and gender sensitivity in the workplace.

“Greenpeace India treats issues of sexual harassment and violence seriously – and these recent allegations have shown that we need to strengthen our internal processes and our sensitivity training for staff and management,” the group said in a statement late on Tuesday.

“We are committed to a safe and equal workplace for all our staff, where people are free to work and live without harassment of any kind. As an organisation we haven’t done enough to create a shared culture of respect and sensitivity.”

The organisation, which has been in India for 14 years and has more than 300 staff, said it had accepted the resignations of two male staff - one accused of sexual harassment and the other accused of rape. The men were asked to leave on Tuesday without serving their notice periods, it added.

Greenpeace said the two cases had not been reported to the police as both victims, who have since left the organisation, had refused to have their cases investigated.

The sexual harassment case came to light in December 2012 when a female employee made a complaint against a male colleague but Greenpeace India’s “internal processes failed” and it “did not handle that complaint adequately,” the statement said.

The victim has declined to have the matter re-investigated - citing Greenpeace’s initial failures and her lack of confidence in the company’s procedures.

Greenpeace also said it had received two separate sexual harassment cases involving the same man.

The group said the case of alleged rape took place in 2013 but the organisation only became aware of it in February when the victim left the charity. The victim refused to have the case investigated, it said.

Greenpeace has set up a new internal complaints committee to address previous failures and issued a “public and unconditional apology” over its handling of the two incidents.

“We admit we have fallen short in the past and we have initiated steps to improve the understanding and processes. We have sought and will continue to seek the advice of experts in this field,” the statement said.

Reporting by Nita Bhalla; Editing by Katie Nguyen.; Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers humanitarian news, women's rights, trafficking, corruption and climate change. Visit www.trust.org

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