'Gender favouritism exists in Malayalam film industry'

'Gender favouritism exists in Malayalam film industry'

The three-member panel which went into problems being faced by women in the Malayalam film industry has said there is gender discrimination and urged the state government to constitute a tribunal headed by a district judge to settle issues within the fraternity.

The commission, constituted by the CPI(M)led LDF government in 2017, submitted its report on Tuesday. Former Kerala High Court judge K Hema, who headed the panel, said there are a lot of issues being faced by the women in the film industry.

"We spoke to several men and women in the industry. Screenshots, audio, and video clippings have been submitted as evidence on the goings-on in the industry", which forms part of the 300-page report, she told reporters.

There is gender discrimination in the industry, she said. Veteran actor Sharada and former IAS officer K B Valsala Kumari were the other members in the panel. The report touches upon the various problems being faced by actresses in the industry, including the practice of casting couch and gender discrimination. A release from the Chief Minister's office said the findings of the commission were serious.

Women coming into the Malayalam film industry face sexual harassment, the report states with evidence. It said the practice of the casting couch is there in the Malayalam film industry. Many women coming to this field were forced to provide sexual favours to get opportunities and the victims do not file police complaints, the release stated.

The Kerala government had appointed the commission in May 2019 to look into the problems faced by women in the industry on the basis of a memorandum submitted by Women in Cinema Collective (WCC), an outfit of women in the Malayalam film industry.

The WCC had claimed that the practice of 'casting couch' exists in the industry and had urged the commission to probe into this aspect also. Several people who come to this field are subjected to various types of exploitation, WCC, an organization which includes actors, directors, scriptwriters and singers was launched to safeguard their rights and ensure gender justice in May after the abduction and molestation of Malayalam actress in Kochi. 

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