Female employee advocates have not all supported the regulation, however. Some have complained, noting various concerns. One sticking point has been the need to give their phone numbers to male security guards escorting them home at night, which is required so that they can verify that they have arrived in their homes safely. This may be a valid concern as security guards employed by even the licensed agencies are often not up to international standards, according to Chakravorty.
Another concern is that the rules treat women too paternalistically. Human Rights Watch’s Aruna Kashyap tells Security Management that she has mixed feelings about the regulation. While she is happy something is being done about the risk, she regrets that the regulation unnecessarily limits a female BPO worker’s freedom of movement, in effect seeming to force her to go straight home from work.
For instance, a security manager for a large multinational company with BPOs in Delhi, who asked not to be named because he was not given permission to speak to Security Management, said his company has a “zero tolerance” rule, whereby female employees must use a company taxi to and from work and abide by the December regulations. If she does not, the company will take disciplinary action against her.
Force Tech Security’s Garewal explained that other companies make a female employee sign a waiver, eliminating the company’s liability if she declines the company’s transportation service or requests a drop-off somewhere other than her home.
Kashyap also notes that the emergency order relies on private security, rather than police, which she says is not the right approach. Instead, she would like to see the police increase their ranks and have a larger presence on Delhi streets.
Aparna Bhat, an independent lawyer and women and children’s rights advocate, believes the police regulation’s focus is all wrong. “If I’m being violated, the person who is violating my space is the one who should be targeted,” Bhat says, not women who have exercised their right to work outside the home.