The WCC had written to the KWC highlighting the problems women in the film industry face to seek justice, especially in context of the Malayalam actor sexual assault case, in which actor Dileep is accused.

Members of Women in Cinema Collective
news Sexual harassment Thursday, February 03, 2022 - 12:31

In a major development in the Women in Cinema Collective’s (WCC) petition for the Association of Malayalam Movie Artists (AMMA) to set up grievance redressal mechanisms against sexual harassment at the workplace, the Kerala Women’s Commission (KWC) has impleaded in the case. In its petition dated January 27, 2022 in the case, which is before the Kerala High Court, the KWC has said that the Kerala government must ensure that an Internal Committee per the Vishaka guidelines as well as the Sexual Harassment of Women at the Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act or the POSH Act, 2013, is set up by AMMA.

The KWC asked for itself to be impleaded in WCC’s petition before the high court as it is “functioning exclusively for the benefit and welfare of women of this State and therefore genuinely prays to this Honourable Court to allow this petition to implead the Kerala Women’s Commission as additional 9th respondent in the above writ petition.”

The WCC had written to the KWC on January 18, 2022, highlighting the problems women in the film industry face to seek justice, especially in context of the Malayalam actor sexual assault case, in which actor Dileep is accused. In its petition to implead in the WCC’s case to set up ICs under the POSH Act, the KWC has also referred to the Justice Hema Committee report, which looked into the problems women face in the Malayalam film industry. The report was submitted in 2019, however, it was only two years later that the state government set up a three-member panel last month to look into the implementation of the recommendations of the report.

However, the Kerala Chalachithra Academy had in 2020 put forward many recommendations to implement the Justice Hema Committee report, including a monitoring system, a Counselling and Aid Cell, which should act as a consultative body to help the film industry prevent sexual assault at the workplace. This cell is not an alternative to the IC. The KWC referenced this letter by the Academy in its petition to the high court as well, which also emphasises the “absolute necessity” to constitute an IC.

The WCC had moved the Kerala High Court in October 2018 pointing out that AMMA’s lack of redressal mechanisms to deal with sexual harassment at the workplace, which, it argued, was violative of the fundamental rights of its members.

In November 2018, the Kerala High Court passed an order stating that AMMA’s grievance redressal system – a Women’s Cell Grievance Forum – was not in accordance with the POSH Act. Following this, AMMA hastily put together an Internal Committee under pressure.

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