Malayalam films have to form sexual Harassment panel: Kerala HC orders in WCC’s plea

From left: WCC members Parvathy, Revathy, Sajitha Madathil, Geetu Mohandas and Rima Kallingal

The Kerala High Court on Thursday observed that film production houses have the responsibility to form an Internal Complaints Committee as per the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace Act, 2013, commonly known as the POSH Act.

The Court passed the order in the PIL filed by Women in Cinema Collective for establishment of grievance redressal mechanism in the Association of Malayalam Movie Artists (AMMA), the collective of Malayalam movie actors, Live Law reported.

Each film unit in an industry is an establishment and an ICC needs to be constituted for that purpose, said the High Court.

A Division Bench of Chief Justice S. Manikumar and Justice Shaji P. Chaly further held that other associations like the Film Employees Federation of Kerala(FEFKA), Kerala Film Chamber of Commerce. and Malayalam Cine Technicians Association(MACTA) with more than 10 employees should have an ICC as mandated by the statute.

AMMA has volunteered to constitute an ICC and added that if AMMA constitutes an ICC as undertaken the same shall be in accordance with the provisions of the POSH Act, the Court recorded.

The Women in Cinema Collective (WCC) is a body of female actors and technicians formed in the backdrop of the sexual assault of a leading South Indian female actor in 2017.

“Some days are special!! Some days you feel it was all worth it,” actor Rima Kallingal wrote on Facebook, sharing the news of HC order. Rima is a founding member of WCC.

The formation of a women’s collective which called for safe working conditions for women in the industry, initiated a conversation about the gender issues in cinema space.

This is the first of its kind in the Indian cinema industry, the second one in the world.

WCC’s first appeal to the Government of Kerala in May 2017, signed by 21 women who worked in the film industry including actors, directors, technicians, and singers suggested that an ICC for sexual harassment be formed for every film that was made.

An ICC is an Internal Complaints Committee set up for the prevention of sexual harassment and to redress complaints of sexual harassment. It asked the government to make sure that films were not allowed to be made if this criterion was not met.

88 years after the release of the first Malayalam film, it was only in 2017, through WCC, that such a demand raised for the first time.

As for the Bollywood, which is more than a hundred years old, the demand has not been made yet.