Budding actress Sri Reddy's protests against casting couch and sexual exploitation in the Telugu film industry have now forced the Telugu Film Chamber of Commerce (TFCC) to set up a sexual harassment redressal panel.
Sri Reddy has waged a war against sexual exploitation in the Telugu film industry in the past few weeks. Initially, she had appeared on some Telugu TV channels to send out a message to the industry. As no action was initiated by the industry's associations, she decided to strip to protest outside TFCC's office last week. The protests had irked the Movie Artist Association (MAA), which dubbed them as cheap gimmicks to garner attention and film offers.
However, Sri Reddy went on to reveal proof that celebs like Viva Harsha, singer Sriram, Abhiram Daggubati and Kona Venkat sexually harassed her. Some photos and screenshots of conversations created a lot of buzz on social media and some women organizations came forward to support the actress.
The TFCC also came under immense pressure after the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) issued a notice to the Telangana government over Sri Reddy's allegations. Hours after the notice, the TFCC convened a press conference and announced that it will set up a sexual harassment redressal forum.
The TFCC also released a statement saying that as per the Vishaka guidelines, it will form the Committee Against Sexual Harassment (CASH) in 4 days. The committee will have 20 members, including 10 members from the film industry and 10 from various sections of the society, including lawyers, doctors, NGOs and government officials.
Here is the TFCC's statement
In the wake of recent issues raised pertaining to the sexual harassment / exploitation in the Telugu Film Industry, the Telugu Film Chamber of Commerce has taken cognizance of the enormity of the issue. Committee against sexual harassment has been made mandatory as per Vishakha guidelines by the Government of India for any organization with employees including contracted and outsourced staff. The Film Chamber as the umbrella body within the Industry takes the responsibility of ensuring the implementation of the government guidelines and make mandatory the establishment of CASH (committee against sexual harassment) in production houses which is registered in the Film Chamber. Furthermore the Film Chamber has taken the initiative to set up a sexual harassment redressal panel, which will comprise of members from the film industry (Telugu Film Producers Council, Movie Artistes Association, Telugu Film Directors Association, Telugu Film Employees Federation) along with respected members of the society from various fields (Social NGO, Legal, Medical, Govt. Officials etc). This is to ensure transparency, expertise and accountability in dealing with such issues.
We hope these steps will further ensure a safe and comfortable working environment for women and also provide a space to address their grievances."
On April 8, Sivaji Raja and other members of the MAA had announced that the association had denied Sri Reddy's application for membership. It was also said that Telugu actors who work with Sri Reddy would be suspended from the association.
In a surprising development, the TFCC has now announced that Sri Reddy's application for membership in the MAA will be considered. The application will be considered by the general body of MAA.
"From the way she behaved by resorting to a protest, we were emotionally upset. That is why the committee decided that she would not be given membership. But some 'elders' have suggested that we should consider her application so that the issue can be resolved," MAA president Sivaji Raja was quoted as saying by The Times of India.