THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: This time it will not be easy for the Malayalam tinsel world to wriggle out of the noose the state is tightening around it. The state government has decided to make statutory Internal Complaint Committees (ICCs) mandatory in the Malayalam film industry under the provisions of the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace Act, 2013.
Cultural Affairs Minister A K Balan said the state government has sought an interim report from the Justice Hema Committee constituted in June 2017 to study issues of women in the film industry. The government is already in the process of piloting legislation for checking unhealthy trade practices in the industry and constituting a regulatory authority with quasi-judicial powers.
Taking note of the findings of the committee, which sought six months’ time to submit final report, the government will make ICCs mandatory in all the bodies of Mollywood. However, it won’t be mandatory for every production unit, as each unit takes shape and disbands after every film production. But the crew can approach the ICC constituted in all film bodies in case of complaint from any location, he said.
Though organisations like AMMA had constituted similar committees recently, they do not have any statutory power with legal framework unlike the new ICC. At least half of the strength of the committee should be constituted by women and one external member should be drawn from social workers and NGOs.
Deedi Damodaran, script-writer and one of the founding members of WCC, said: “It is a welcome step by the government and we hope it will herald a new change in the Malayalam film industry. We hope the government would consider other legitimate demands we put before the CM like arranging basic amenities for women in locations and introducing more women-friendly initiatives in the sector for ensuring employment in technical areas and other sectors,” she said.
Meanwhile, there are reports that various film bodies have already started constituting ICCs to avoid embarrassment in the light of the issue being dragged to court, apart from the government.