In the wake of the recent abduction and alleged rape of a prominent Malayalam actor in a moving car in Kochi, the Association of Malayalam Movie Artists (AMMA) has come up with a ‘solution’ steeped in patriarchy.
In what they claimed was a well-meaning move, they asked the women artists to not travel alone irrespective of the time of the day.
Since the Malayalam film industry has never been very progressive in its approach, the fact that they joined hands in support of the actor came as a welcome move. That too, for an industry that is accustomed to internalizing the misogyny in its own cinema.
But this new advisory just goes to show that the more things change, the more they remain the same.
Speaking to The News Minute on condition of anonymity, an actor and television personality close to the survivor said that AMMA, an organisation that is meant for the welfare of its members should never have come up with such a statement.
However, she said that the opinion came from only a section of the members and it should not be seen as the opinion of the organisation itself.
"AMMA is an organisation that has both youngsters and seniors as its members. It is only very few people in the organisation who have come up with advice to its women actors that they should not travel alone for their own safety. For now, one shouldn't pay much heed to the statement and move on," she said.
Elaborating on how certain senior members in the organisation completely lost the plot on the matter, she added, "I know of a senior actor who visited the survivor's mother and asked her why her daughter hadn't tried to jump off the car and escape while she was attacked."
While a few actors have been vocal about their opposition to AMMA's statement, the industry has been largely silent on the matter. Director Aashiq Abu was one of the first people to openly express his disagreement on the stand the organisation took.
Taking a jibe at "artistes" who proposed the "liberal" stand, Aashiq Abu wrote on Facebook: "One cannot appreciate AMMA enough for having come up with such a historic and liberal opinion."
Following suit, actor Sajitha Madathil - who is not yet a member of the association - questioned whether AMMA's intention was to pin the responsibility of its actors' safety on themselves.
Terming the organisation's opinion as anti-women, Sajitha wrote on Facebook: "Does AMMA mean to say that the safety of a woman actor, who works day and night, is now the responsibility of the actor herself? Will other organisations too, take up the same view about its women members?" she wrote.
Speaking to The News Minute later, Sajitha reiterated that she stands by her opinion.
"When both women and men are members of an organisation, the body has equal responsibility towards both the parties. It cannot, at any point, not take up responsibility of its women members. An organisation is not just for the men, it is also for women in the industry," Sajitha said, while commending the organisation for its timely intervention to extend solidarity to the actor.
When TNM reached out to Idavela Babu, general secretary of AMMA, he refused to comment on the matter. Maintaining that decisions of the organisation "needn't be discussed in other circles", Babu said, "The need of the hour is to nab the culprits and bring them to book. What the organisation discusses in its meetings are purely meant for its members."