WCC welcomes SIC order to issue Hema Committee report, says it gives hope

The State Information Commission ordered on July 6 to release the findings of the Hema Committee report on the problems faced by women in Malayalam cinema, including sexual harassment.
Members of WCC / 2020 image
Members of WCC / 2020 imageInstagram
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The Women in Cinema Collective (WCC) in Kerala on Sunday, July 7 welcomed the order of the State Information Commission (SIC) to publish the Hema Committee report on the problems faced by women in the film industry, including sexual harassment. The SIC directed the report to be issued with all the details except those affecting the privacy of individuals, as prohibited by the Right to Information Act. 

The WCC, which has for years been fighting for the release of the report, said in a note: “The order that breaks the long and disappointing silence indeed gives hope to all of us who have been relentlessly striving to break through.”

The collective, formed in the aftermath of the abduction and sexual assault of a woman actor in Kochi in 2017, had approached Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan for such an investigation into the issues faced by women in the Malayalam film industry. Though a committee headed by former Justice K Hema was soon constituted, the findings – involving a tedious process with women narrating their traumatic experiences – were never released.

Members of WCC / 2020 image
Why is Kerala govt keeping Hema Committee report on Malayalam film industry a secret?

“Suggesting to implement solutions without revealing the findings was an exercise of mockery of the system. Hence, we strongly believe that this move (by the SIC) to reveal the findings with accountability can be an authentic basis for real solutions, change, and process,” the WCC noted.

The Hema Committee had submitted its report to the government of Kerala by the end of 2019. But nothing came out of it for months, except a two-page document listing the committee’s recommendations and the much-delayed news of the formation of a three-member panel to implement the recommendations. Even these recommendations were vague and disappointing, WCC members said after the first meeting held to discuss them, in May 2022.

In its note welcoming the SIC order, the WCC said that such a study can effectively address the gender imbalances and unjust practices prevailing in the film industry (while protecting the identity of the survivors). “May this be a starting point to rewrite existing injustice in the industry and bring about more gender-inclusive and balanced workspaces,” the WCC said.

The note ended with the hope that “survivors will be given justice and they can at least in the future have workplaces to go to without any fear, discrimination, or exploitation.”

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