Hyderabad: The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has issued notices to the government of Telangana and the Union ministry of information and broadcasting over the reported sexual exploitation of women in the Telugu film industry and lack of a grievance redressal mechanism in the industry.
The NHRC has taken suo motu cognizance of media reports that there is sexual exploitation of women in the Telugu film industry. The issue was raised by television anchor Sri Reddy who now acts in Telugu films.
According to media reports, the actress has been questioning the state government and the Movie Artists’ Association (MAA) about the absence of the mandatory committee against sexual harassment, which every organisation is duty bound to appoint, due to which, she said, no woman can voice, or seek redressal of, complaints of sexual harassment at the work place.
The NHRC observed that if the media reports are true, it is tantamount to inaction on the part of the state government in instituting such a committee. The Commission is of the opinion that the reported prohibitions imposed on the actress — barring her from acting in films and stopping others from working with her — are violations of her right to livelihood and to live a life with dignity.
Accordingly, it has issued notices to the Chief Secretary, government of Telangana, and Secretary, Union ministry of information and broadcasting, calling for a detailed report in the matter within four weeks.
The Commission observed that the issues raised by the actress demand action on the part of the state government in the form of a committee to address and redress complaints of sexual harassment of female actors and women employees at the work place, which in this case is the Telugu film industry.
The actress had staged a semi-nude protest outside the Telugu Film Chamber of Commerce and an annoyed MAA not only dismissed her allegations, but also declared that she will not be given membership under any circumstances.
The MAA, reportedly, went further and said that action will be taken against any artist who decides to share screen space with her. The NHRC also observed that while legal action against the actress has been taken under Sec 294 IPC, it is nowhere mentioned if action has been taken by the authorities regarding the serious allegations of the prevalence of the ‘casting couch’ system and of sexual harassment levelled by the actress.
Therefore, it appears to be an attempt to muzzle the voice of the whistle blower by both the MAA and the state authorities. MAA that had banned Sri Reddy’s membership, four days ago, revoked its decision.
In a hurried press conference held on Thursday evening at MAA chambers at filmnagar, the President of MAA Shivaji Raja announced the lift of ban on Sri Reddy and said the artist is allowed to work in any Telugu film....