The Cine and TV Artists Association or CINTAA on Wednesday said it will form two committees to tackle sexual harassment in the entertainment industry in the wake of the #MeToo movement.
Actors Raveena Tandon and Renuka Shahane and filmmaker Amole Gupte will be part of a complaints redressal committee, while actor Swara Bhasker will set up a sub-committee to increase awareness on film sets.
At a press conference, CINTAA general secretary and actor Sushant Singh said that the association was also working on drafting guidelines to tackle sexual harassment. The association will work with POSH (Prevention of Sexual Harassment) at Work, an organisation that helps employers comply with the The Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act 2013, which lays out the Vishaka guidelines on tackling such complaints.
Awareness measures too will be undertaken, through posters and videos on the dos and don’ts in the workplace and counselling sessions.
“We don’t want the committees to become cosmetic,” Singh said. “We will be working with the lawyers at POSH. Swara Bhasker has approached lawyer Vrinda Grover to help us with awareness programmes. We will also make a list of verified casting directors.”
Singh added, “This problem is persistent in every industry. Thank you to all of the true survivors of the Me Too movement for waking us up.”
The #MeToo movement against sexual harassment gathered momentum in the Hindi film industry after actor Tanushree Dutta on September 25 accused Patekar of behaving inappropriately with her in 2008 on the sets of the unreleased film Horn ‘Ok’ Pleassss.
A string of accusations followed against several comedians, media persons and entertainment industry members. Those in Bollywood who have been accused of harassment include actor Rajat Kapoor and filmmakers Sajid Khan, Vikas Bahl and Subhash Ghai . (Read the details of these allegations and the responses of the accused here).
Earlier this month, CINTAA apologised to Dutta for not addressing her complaint appropriately when she first raised it in 2008. CINTAA and other film workers’ bodies also sent show cause notices to Bahl, Nath, and Khan.
Singh said that in his response to their notice, Nath had denied the allegations and requested them not to expel him till investigation is over. “We will soon come to a decision,” Singh added.
“We don’t intend to be a small voice anymore,” Singh said. “We want to create such a committee that when a person is expelled [from CINTAA], they will be expelled from the industry. When choice is grabbed out of a person, it is not consent, it is submission. We should face these accusations not by knee jerk reactions, but after careful investigation.”
Dutta last week filed a first information report against Patekar, also naming choreographer Ganesh Acharya, producer Samee Siddhiqui and director Rakesh Sarang, all of whom were working on the 2008 film. Singh said that since Dutta’s matter was sub-judice, the association could not intervene until the investigation is complete.
Vinta Nanda on Wednesday filed a police complaint against Nath. The writer and producer has accused Nath of raping her close to two decades ago, shortly after he was sacked from the popular 1990s’ television show Tara for misbehaving with its lead actress. Nath had on Monday filed a civil defamation suit against Nanda, seeking a written apology and Re 1 in damages. Actors Sandhya Mridul and Deepika Amin have also accused Nath of harassment.
Singh also called upon CINTAA members to retain faith in the organisation. “Earlier, people slowly started losing hope in CINTAA,” he said. “Maybe now members will have more faith in us. Let us not let the Me Too movement die.”