Women and Child Development minister Maneka Gandhi has written to several leading Bollywood producers asking them to comply with the Sexual Harassment at Workplace Act, 2013.
In the letter, Maneka wrote that sexual harassment under the Act included, “physical contact, a demand or request for sexual favours, making sexually coloured remarks, showing pornography, any other unwelcome physical, verbal, or non-verbal conduct of sexual nature”.
Ministry officials said the letters, signed by Maneka Gandhi, have been sent to owners of productions houses in Bollywood such as Aditya Chopra, Karan Johar, Ekta Kapoor, Anurag Kashyap, Vinod Chopra, Mahesh Bhatt, Aamir Khan, Shah Rukh Khan, Sooraj Barjatya, Farhan Akhtar, Anil Ambani, Sajid Nadiadwala, Sanjay Leela Bhansali, and Subhash Ghai.
The letter mentions that as leaders of their organisations, they are ethically and legally accountable for the safety of both direct employees and all outsourced and temporary staff. It states that, with immediate effect, all production houses must set up internal complaint cells, frame their own policy on dealing with sexual harassment and ensure documentation and reporting of all cases with detailed investigation to be carried out in case of complaints.
The move follows this year’s #MeToo movement after The New York Times reported on allegations of sexual harassment brought to the fore by several women against Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein.
“Earlier we have written similar letters to the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) and Confederation of Indian Industry (CII). Today, we sent out a batch of letters to all Bollywood production houses on what is expected of them under the Act. We will soon follow it up with letters to other film industries in the country,” said a ministry official.
Maneka wrote: “This is to be followed in letter and in spirit by all organisations in the country and I expect you to personally lead these efforts.”
The #MeToo movement was also responsible for the Corporate Affairs Ministry finally acceding to Maneka’s two-year-old request for mandatory disclosure by all companies on their compliance with the Sexual Harassment Act.
Earlier letters by Maneka to Corporate Affairs minister Arun Jaitley were met with a reply that industry representatives were against “enhanced disclosures under the Companies Act, 2013, and adding to these may not be desirable”. Last month, Jaitley agreed to amend the rules under the Companies Act, 2013, so as to make it compulsory for the Board of Directors of all companies to report on the constitution of ICC under the Act.
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