Responding to pointed questions about what the WCC has done for sexual harassment victims, the collective vowed to ensure that the industry soon has an ICC as per law.

Why no committee for sexual harassment in 90-yr-old Malayalam industry WCC lashes out
news Mollywood Sunday, July 08, 2018 - 17:49

The Women in Cinema Collective (WCC) has issued a strong statement, a day after a Malayalam serial actor accused her director of mental and sexual harassment. Alluding to questions that were being asked to the collective about their role in tackling sexual harassment, WCC vowed to ensure that the industry soon has an Internal Complaints Committee (ICC) as per Indian law. At the same time, they asked why these questions were not being put to other – more powerful groups.

In a Facebook post on Sunday, WCC said, “Today in Kerala, if any woman reports the difficulties faced by her in the film industry, immediately a question is asked: What has the WCC done about it? This has become a norm. But we view this as a sort of acceptance of the organisation - WCC - by the people.”

“However, we cannot accept such questions to WCC as innocent, or curious, when you haven’t asked the same question to the police, that is getting paid to enforce the law, or to the administration, or to the huge organisations in the film industry that have survived over the years by taking lakhs of rupees as membership fees,” they said.

Alleging that vested interests are behind such attacks on WCC, the statement said that the people asking the questions were also those who stood with the accused in the actor assault case.

The collective however also said that such questions have increased their sense of responsibility. “We will not be able to progress even one step further without constituting the ICC. We also will not take even a step back until it has been set up,” the statement said.

This post came after a prominent female television actor accused the director of a serial she was acting in, of misbehaving with her and sending her inappropriate messages.

Nisha Sarangh, the actor who plays ‘Neelu’ in the TV serial Uppum Mulagum, made the allegation in an interview with Reporter TV on Saturday. She said that the director of the serial, R Unnikrishnan was taking revenge for her ignoring his advances and for having complained against him to the channel’s head Sreekantan Nair, adding that she was unceremoniously removed from the show because of this.

Flowers TV, which airs the serial, has issued a statement denying the allegations of terminating the actor from the show.

The full statement of the WCC is reproduced below:

Yesterday, an actor's revelation about the difficulties faced in her profession has risen as yet another example of the patriarchal trend in the movie/serial industry (Mollywood). Today in Kerala, if any woman reports the difficulties faced by her in the film industry, immediately a question is asked: What has the WCC done about it? This has become a norm. But we view this as a sort of acceptance of the organisation - WCC - by the people.

There should never be a situation where a woman falls into trouble or becomes a victim of sexual harassment here. We stand here to ensure just that. We are taking the effort to constitute an Internal Complaints Committee in the field of cinema – by viewing the field as just another industry – to handle the grievances of women. The ICC is mandated by the law in all workplaces, to handle issues related to women.

The fact that there is no provision for an ICC in this 90-year-old movie industry in itself is unfair.

However, we cannot accept such questions to WCC as innocent, or curious, when you haven’t asked the same question to the police, that is getting paid to enforce the law, or to the administration, or to the huge organisations in the film industry that have survived over the years by taking lakhs of rupees as membership fees.

There are vested interests behind this. Those who are questioning us the most are the people who stood with the man accused in the actor assault case, and the fight against it.

However, we cannot help that this questioning is increasing our sense of responsibility.

It is only as a result of our fight that, for the first time in the history of Malayalam cinema, the government has set up the Hema Commission to monitor the cinema industry. We hope that they have started their work.

We will not be able to progress even one step further without constituting the ICC. We also will not take even a step back until it has been set up.

The ICC is a place to resolve the grievances of not just the actor who was assaulted or the actor who came forward with her complaint yesterday, but for each and every such person’s complaints.

We are also supporting this actor (who accused a serial director of harassment.) Our agitation is for each and every person who has been unfairly attacked. And it is for the birth of a safe workplace where there are no attacks.

The police have the responsibility of taking suo motu cognisance of this incident, where this sister has revealed the difficulties she is facing in her workplace, file a case and investigate it. Each representative of the people has the responsibility to question the justice system, which despite running on the taxpayer's money, is not doing its job right. The associations that represent the artist also has this responsibility. We have this responsibility. For each woman who has been attacked, we will be there to support them.

 

Show us some love and support our journalism by becoming a TNM Member - Click here.