Maneka Gandhi warns Bollywood: Union minister for Women and Child Development Menaka Gandhi has written to leading Bollywood film-makers asking them to crack down on sexual exploitation in the industry after several actors went public with allegations of harassment and assault. The aim of this law is to ensure that no woman is sexually harassed at her workplace. Maneka Gandhi wrote to top filmmakers like Aditya Chopra, Karan Johar, Anurag Kashyap, Ekta Kapoor, Mahesh Bhatt, Shahrukh Khan, Aamir Khan, Farhan Akhtar, Sajid Nadiadwala, Sanjay Leela Bhansali, Ashutosh Gowarikar, Subhash Ghai, urging them to “provide a safe, secure and inclusive work environment for women” in line with national laws against sexual harassment.She said “harassment under Indian law included unwanted touching, lewd remarks or making “a demand or request for sexual favours”. With this effort, the ministry wants to extend the reach and implementation of the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition Redressal) Act, 2013. Gandhi ordered film studios to set up internal complaint mechanisms and processes for dealing with complaints.A “casting couch” culture, where women were regularly propositioned to exchange job opportunities for sex, was endemic ,an actor added. Another, Tisca Chopra, said: “They make situations uncomfortable and load choices in a way where if women want to get ahead, you have to do certain things.” “It’s an insecure industry in which people take advantage of each other because of this insecurity,” said Amit Behl, the senior joint secretary of the Cine and TV Artists Association (Cintaa) in Mumbai.In November ,Gandhi had also launched an online complaint management system titled ‘Sexual Harassment electronic–Box (SHe-Box)’ for registering complaints related to sexual harassment at workplace. The wave of accusations against high-profile politicians and news and entertainment figures in the US and UK has so far only caused ripples in the Indian cinema industry, the world’s largest.But the number of official reports of sexual harassment made to Cintaa has increased fourfold in the past two years among Indian women across society to report sexual misconduct.Flavia Agnes, a senior lawyer and women’s advocate, said women in Indian cinema had frequently complained to her about the conduct of their male colleagues but “are generally afraid to speak out when their career is at stake ,they fear they won’t get work, that’s the main worry.They are afraid the industry will shun them, and that there are always newcomers waiting to take their place.” Indian women contributed thousands of stories of harassment and abuse to the #MeToo campaign, sparked by the revelation of decades of sexual abuse allegations.
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