When #MeToo movement reached the Telugu film industry, it has a different resonance compared to the wave it created in Hollywood. Here, the Telangana government and the central Information and Broadcasting Ministry were preparing to file cases against the whistle blower, forcing the Human Rights Commission to step in defence of the #MeToo actress Sri Reddy.
The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) on Thursday served notices on the Information and Broadcasting ministry and the Telangana government, seeking detailed reports on the alleged sexual exploitation of women in the Telugu Film Industry or Tollywood.
The NHRC took suo motu cognisance of the recent protests by Telugu actress Sri Reddy who stripped in public in Hyderabad on Saturday against what is known as casting couch or sexual exploitation of aspiring artistes. Her act has sent shockwaves among the members of the Movie Artistes Association (MAA), an apex body of the Telugu film industry.
Not only did the MAA refused to make Sri Reddy a member of the body, but also threatened to file legal case against her. Sri Reddy followed the fight with her ‘SriReddyLeaks’ page on Facebook and started leaking the information about the people who had exploited her over the period. The former TV anchor has taken the Telugu film industry for a task that six names she had revealed have hit the roof.
The NHRC has sent notice to the MAA for not forming any committee to address sexual harassment complaints from women artistes in the film industry and even asked the state government to act on Sri Reddy’s complaints, instead of mulling cases against her.
Meanwhile, MAA has boycotted her and asked the members not to give her any role or work with her. The commission has taken a serious note of it and said such move by MAA violates the actress’s "right to livelihood and live a life with dignity." Instead of addressing the root-cause of the casting couch in the film industry, the government and the film body are acting against the whisle blower, noted the Human Rights commission in its notice served on MAA and the Telangana government.
“The Commission has also observed that reportedly, legal action against the actress has been taken under section 294 of IPC but it is nowhere mentioned, if action on the serious allegations of casting couch and sexual harassment, levelled by her, has been taken by the authorities. Therefore, it appears to be an attempt to muzzle the voice of whistle blower both from the sides of MAA and the State authorities,” said NHRC in a statement.