NHRC notice to Centre, Telangana on sexual harassment in films

The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) issued notices to the Telangana government and the Union Ministry of Information and Broadcasting calling for detailed reports on the alleged sexual exploitation of women in Tollywood.

The direction came in the light of actor Sri Reddy's outcry against the casting couch in the Telugu film industry.

She has started a page on Facebook called 'SriReddyLeaks' for her campaign, disclosing the names of a few people.

The NHRC took suo motu cognizance of media reports on the issue and felt that a redressal mechanism is lacking in the film industry.

"The sexual harassment of women at the work place (prevention, prohibition and redressal) Act, 2013 makes it mandatory for any organisation to have a committee to deal with complaints of sexual harassment at work place," it said.

The commission has observed that the contents of the media reports, if true, tantamount to inaction of the part of the state government.

The commission is of the opinion that the reported prohibitions imposed upon the actor, barring her from acting in films and stopping others from working with her are violations of her right to livelihood and right to live a life with dignity.

The commission also said that while legal action against the actor has been taken using section 294 of the IPC, it is nowhere mentioned if the action on the serious allegations of casting couch and sexual harassment, leveled by her, has been taken by the authorities.

"Therefore, it appears to be an attempt to muzzle the voice of a whistle blower both from the sides of Movie Artists Association (MAA) and the state authorities," NHRC said.

Sri Reddy, the first "me too" campaigner from Tollywood, staged a semi-nude protest at the MAA office here on Sunday, protesting against casting couch and the discrimination against Telugu girls in Tollywood. Her protest drew national attention.

She sought an audience with Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao to apprise him of the "dirty happenings" in the industry. However, neither the government nor the MAA took her seriously.

MAA executive body went to the extent of denying her membership in the association and even boycotted her socially by warning all its 900 members against acting with Sri Reddy in any film.

Sri Reddy started her career as a news reader in a popular local television channel before getting into films.

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