The Women in Cinema Collective has come out strongly against actor and MP Innocent's suggestion that the Malayalam film industry is free from sexual harassment or violence against women.
The film industry is a reflection of existing social mores and imbalance of power in gender relations, the group said in a Facebook post: "Many newcomers who hope to enter the field are subject to various kinds of abuse because of the aforementioned power structures. Some of our own colleagues have spoken out loud and clear recently about the casting couch in the industry. Actresses like Parvathi and Lakshmi Rai have shared their experiences with the media. We hope that the government-appointed Justice Hema Commission will order a serious probe into this issue. We request that those in the film field be wary of statements like these that are blind to facts with eyes wide open."
Innocent, the president of AMMA or the Association of Malayalam Movie Artists, had met the press Wednesday morning after the organisation drew flak for its lack of support to the actress who was molested in February.
Towards the end of the press conference, a reporter asked a question on the lack of female voices and representation in AMMA. "Even CPM leaders have said that AMMA is a male-dominated set-up - An organisation of Achanmaar (Fathers). Do you think that is true," she asked the LDF-backed MP.
Innocent’s short reply revealed his take on reservation and women in power. "Do you know when Kerala got its first ministry? From then to now, has there ever been a woman Chief Minister?....Smart women should come up the right way at the right time. We should not have these clueless women who come up solely in the name of reservation."
The reporter persisted with the topic, asking about allegations of casting couch and gender abuse in the industry.
"That time has gone, my dear sister," Innocent replied. "If you even ask something inappropriate to a woman, the people sitting here and the press would confront you. The woman will speak out. There are no cases like that here. But if the women are loose, they might get into bed with people. That apart, things are going in a very clean, clean line here."
For the full press conference, click here.
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