To provide a more sanitised atmosphere for women,the government plans to draw up a set of guidelines for portrayal of women in mass media like films,television programmes,advertisements,radio and print.
The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting has begun consultations with all stakeholders in the media industry to evolve an agreement on how to stop the depiction of women as sex objects. As a first step,the Censor Board had last month decided to give A rating to all so-called item songs,thereby banning them from being shown on TV.
Following the gangrape of a 23-year-old student in Delhi last December,all the ministries had been asked to act within their respective domains to promote gender sensitivity and gender equality.
Officials in the I&B ministry have held separate rounds of informal discussions with representatives of regulatory bodies,including Central Board of Film Certification,Advertising Standards Council of India,News Broadcasters Association,Indian Broadcasting Foundation,private FM radio channels and Prasar Bharati on steps to be taken to curb commodification and stereotyping of women in soap operas,advertisements,films.
Private FM stations have been told to run public interest campaigns highlighting these aspects as well as safety of women. Sources said the ministry can direct the FM channels to air public interest programmes under licence conditions. They said the ministry was willing to financially support them and provide the content,if needed.
Nudged by the ministry,the Censor Board has agreed to organise a seminar on portrayal of women in films during the week-long celebrations marking the 100 years of Indian cinema in Delhi. Prasar Bharati is working on putting together a campaign highlighting these issues to be broadcast on Doordarshan and All India Radio.
The BCCC the self-regulatory body for non-news TV channels set up by the Indian Broadcasting Foundation has organised interactive sessions with creative and programming teams of its member channels to sensitise them.
Sources admit that bringing the advertisement industry around is likely to be difficult. The ministry has in the past objected to certain deodorant advertisements saying the portrayal of women in these ads are overtly sexual and had written to the Advertising Standards Council of India,an independent regulatory body,to ensure the commercials were modified or taken off air.
Sources said the portrayal of women was discussed by Committee of Secretaries and it was felt the ministry should ensure implementation of existing laws and draw a fresh guidelines for the purpose.