Taking a leaf out of Malayalam film industry’s book which had formed the Women in Cinema Collective (WCC) last year, actresses, women filmmakers and technicians from the Telugu industry have come together to form VOW – Voice of Women – an initiative to address sexual harassment at workplace. The move is a result of the #MeToo movement that gave voice to women across professions and industries to out predators at work.
#MeToo Actresses, women directors & technicians in Telugu film industry have formed VOW (Voice of Women), a platform to address issues of sexual harassment. VOW team will interact with women workforce working in all crafts of the industry.
— Jalapathy Gudelli (@JalapathyG) October 15, 2018
Actress Samantha tweeted details of the various helplines that can be reached in order to report instances of sexual harassment in the industry.
Speak up against sexual harassment
Your voice will be heard even if it is anonymous Complain to –
Panel against sexual harassment
Dr D Ramanaidu Building
TELANGANA 500096 #MeToo pic.twitter.com/iDz02nnJ4c
— Samantha Akkineni (@Samanthaprabhu2) October 14, 2018
A Cinema Express article quotes a member of VOW as saying that the committee will act as a platform for women in cinema, television and media to raise their voices against sexual abuse and exploitation. The panel will also investigate harassment claims and be formed through a lottery system so that the accused will not have the power to influence, intimidate or act again. “The idea is to help women from any of these aforesaid sectors and ensure that everything we do contributes to healing, transparency, and accountability. We won’t spare anyone and will ensure necessary action is taken according to CASH (Committee Against Sexual Harassment) as per Vishakha guidelines. The victim’s voice will be heard even if it is an anonymous complaint,” the member said.
When contacted by Silverscreen, Mutalya Ramdas, the secretary of Telugu Film Chamber, said that 50 percent of the committee will comprise people from within the industry while the remaining will comprise social activists.
Meanwhile, Kollywood remains the only industry without a functional organisation to address sexual harassment even as Varalaxmi Sarathkumar kickstarted the ‘Save Sakthi’ campaign last year to address harassment faced by women in the industry. She has since spoken about the sexism and misogyny prevalent in the film world, and also anchors a show called Unnai Arindhaal on Jaya TV, which addresses social issues pertaining to women and children. The Tamil Film Producers Council recently constituted a committee to receive and address complaints of sexual harassment following multiple allegations that emerged against various people in the industry.