The Women and Child Development minister Maneka Gandhi has written to around 24 leading Hindi film production houses urging them to comply with the Sexual Harassment at Workplace Act, 2013.
In a letter, Gandhi said that sexual harassment under the Act included, “physical contact, a demand or request for sexual favours, making sexually coloured remarks, showing pornography, any other unwelcome physical, verbal, or non-verbal conduct of sexual nature,” reported The Indian Express.
“This is to be followed in letter and in spirit by all organisations in the country and I expect you to personally lead these efforts, Gandhi wrote.
In a series of tweets, the Ministry of Women and Child Development stressed that the Bollywood filmmakers were “ethically and legally accountable for the safety of not only their direct employees, but of all outsourced and temporary staff as well.” The list of production houses included Yash Raj Films, Dharma Productions, Phantom Films, Balaji Telefilms, Red Chillies Entertainment, Viacom 18 Motion Pictures, Drishyam Films and Fox Star Studio India.
Detailing the key elements of sexual harassment at the workplace, the ministry’s tweet called for all workplaces with 10 or more employees to set up an Internal Complaints Committee. The Indian Express report said the letter also urged producers to “frame their own policy on dealing with sexual harassment and ensure documentation and reporting of all cases with detailed investigation to be carried out in case of complaints.”
The letter comes in the wake of a series of sexual harassment scandals in Hollywood following the expose on film mogul Harvey Weinstein in October and the #MeToo movement where women across the country shared their experiences of molestation, assault or misconduct.
“Earlier we have written similar letters to the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry and Confederation of Indian Industry,” an official from the Women and Child Development ministry told The Indian Express. “Today, we sent out a batch of letters to all Bollywood production houses on what is expected of them under the Act. We will soon follow it up with letters to other film industries in the country.”