For the first time in the country, women film professionals in Malayalam celluloid have formed a collective, called Women collective in cinema, mainly to fight against sexual exploitation and gender disparity in the industry.
On Thursday, members of the collective petitioned Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, seeking that the film industry should be brought under the purview of the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prohibition, Prevention and Redressal) Act. Those who met Pinarayi included prominent faces such as Manju Warrier, Reema Kallingal, Beena Paul and Ramya Nambisan. Around two dozen women professionals have signed the petition.
The collective wanted the formation of an anti-sexual harassment committee for every film production similar to the committees that exist in other workplaces.
The government should ensure that no film is registered without the formation of this anti-harassment committee.
The women film professionals said the recent kidnapping of and sexual assault on an actress was not the first incident. It was only the first reported incident. It is important to stand with the victims of such trauma. Normally, such incidents are silenced for the sake of the industry.
The petition said gender justice is yet to herald in the Malayalam film industry.
“Things have not reached even a stage in which we can discuss basic human rights and pay packages. So we have to fight for equal justice,” said the petition.
The women film professionals said security in the industry had become necessary to increase the presence of women in the sector. They asked Vijayan to form a committee to study the labour and gender issues.
Later, Vijayan, in his Facebook post, said the government would take steps to prevent sexual harassment and abuse of women in the film industry.
A committee would be formed to study the issue of women film professionals. Police assistance would be provided for verifying the background of those working at film shootings, said the chief minister.