The 59-year-old practice in the Indian film industry that bars women from being classified as make-up artists is set to end with the Supreme Court stating on Monday that it would not allow this “constitutionally impermissible discrimination” to continue.
In the film industry, only men are allowed to become make-up artists while women are classified as hairdressers. The trade unions say this is to ensure that the men are not deprived of work.
“How can this discrimination continue? We will not permit this. It cannot be allowed under our Constitution. Why should only a male artist be allowed to put make-up? How can it be said that only men can be make-up artists and women can be hairdressers? We don’t see a reason to prohibit a woman from becoming a make-up artist if she is qualified,” said a bench of Justices Dipak Misra and U U Lalit.
“You better delete this clause on your own. Remove this immediately. We are in 2014, not in 1935. Such things cannot continue even for a day,” the court told the Cine Costume Make-up Artists and Hair Dressers Association (CCMAA). The court said the film industry, as a unit, could not be allowed to prolong this “gender bias”.
The court was hearing a petition by Charu Khurana and other women make-up artists, who were rebuffed by the CCMAA when they sought make-up artist cards. Khurana qualified from the Cinema Make-up School, California, but her application for membership was rejected by the CCMAA in 2009 because she is a woman.
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The bench directed the body to come back with a “positive response” within a week. Khurana’s counsel, Jyotika Kalra, complained that Maharashtra’s union refused to delete the clause even after a state government order. “Don’t worry. If they don’t do it this time, we will order deletion,” assured the bench.
It also expressed its displeasure at the Centre’s counsel asking for more time to collect information from across the country on this issue. The court said that besides Mumbai, only Kolkata, Bangalore, Chennai and Hyderabad have film industries and all the regional federations bar women from the job.
“There are industries only in a few states and the government should have taken a stand by now. But we will do it ourselves now,” said the bench, turning down the government’s request to grant additional time.