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Make Kerala film industry safe for women

Kerala’s entertainment industry is gripped by a fresh wave of #MeToo allegations. The latest is the rape case against producer-actor Vijay Babu.

Published: 29th April 2022 07:39 AM  |   Last Updated: 29th April 2022 12:51 PM   |  A+A-

Actor Vijay Babu (Photo | Actor Vijay Babu's official Facebook page)

Actor Vijay Babu (Photo | Actor Vijay Babu's official Facebook page)

Kerala’s entertainment industry is gripped by a fresh wave of #MeToo allegations. The latest is the rape case against producer-actor Vijay Babu. A young actor has accused him of brutal rape and assault. The producer, who has gone absconding, came live on his social media page and revealed the identity of the complainant, thus sounding a dog-whistle for his fans. In January this year, comedian Srikanth Vettiyar was booked for rape following a woman’s complaint.

While such cases continue to be reported, the trial in the high-profile actor assault case of 2017 in which actor-producer Dileep is a key accused has dragged on. The fact that the complainant in this case has to make frequent interventions to ensure that the probe is not derailed exposes the thorny path of justice that survivors are made to take. Recently, taking note of unhealthy practices in the Malayalam film industry, the Kerala High Court directed all film production houses to constitute internal complaints committees under the POSH Act to deal with sexual harassment of women.

What these repeated incidents suggest is that the industry is yet to ensure a healthy atmosphere for women. In this context, the state government’s silence on the Justice Hema Commission report needs to be questioned. The commission, formed in the wake of the 2017 assault, studied gender discrimination in the film industry. Its report submitted in 2019 has been kept under wraps on the pretext that it contains details that might be dangerous to the life and career of those who testified.

As usual, the towering figures of Mollywood are silent. An internal correction within the industry appears remote despite organisations like AMMA and FEFKA making tall promises in the HC. The government can no longer remain a mute spectator to what’s happening in the industry. It’s duty-bound to ensure a free and fair working environment for all. It must implement at least the key recommendation of the Hema Commission—that is to form a tribunal with regulatory powers. The industry, on its part, should lose no time in putting in place measures to end the exploitation of and discrimination against women.



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