What happens to women in the Malayalam cinema industry? While the picture may look rosy on the outside, the Hema Committee Report paints a dark picture.
At the moment, no one really knows what the report entails, barring a few women who spoke up against their harassers to the committee. Despite probing and pushing the Government to take necessary action for two years, there has been nothing but pin-drop silence.
In such a scenario, we can’t help but question the intentions of the Government. Why are they not making the Hema Committee Report public? Who are they protecting? Why is there an “extra-confidential” bubble around it? Did they create the report just to keep the women in the Malayalam film industry quiet?
The Pertinent Issue
December 31, 2019 – The day the Hema Committee Report was submitted to the Government. Two years have gone by and yet there is no action taken.
The committee’s main aim was to study and understand the life of women working in the Malayalam film industry. It was also to understand if they were being subjected to harassment, discrimination, exclusivity, policing, and had access to a healthy working environment. The Hema Committee Report mentions the scrupulous activities and experiences that go on in the Malayalam film industry behind closed doors. It also suggests recommendations to create a safe space for women within the industry whilst holding the wrongdoers responsible for their actions.
Retired Justice Hema, who led the committee, recently stated that the report will not be made public. It is in no attempt to protect the perpetrators of the crime. Rather, it is to avoid media and public outcry. She also suggested that those who spoke up against the harassment they faced are welcome to publically oust their perpetrators. According to The News Minute, Justice Hema commented, “Confidentiality was maintained by the Committee from the very beginning. We were scrupulously avoiding media and publicity, and not giving any interview or bytes during our term, to protect the interest of all concerned and to do our job peacefully without any external interference.”
People have started questioning the Government’s incapacity to make the report public. The reasons cited by Government is not substantial enough to justify their inaction. Actor Parvathy went on to state that, “The reason the Hema Commission report was not released is not because of the name of the person who gave the statement was inside it, but because the name of the person against whom the statement was given should not be released.”
Those in Power
What many don’t realise is that the Hema Committee Report has the potential to hopefully change the culture at a toxic workplace. It has the capability to create a safe environment for women in the Malayalam film industry. No person should ever feel threatened or force themselves to do things they wouldn’t want to do in a space they wish to grow their careers in. Besides this, it will also force people to hold perpetrators responsible.
The whole world has high praises for the Malayalam film industry for the work they produce every year. But truthfully, movies don’t portray the culture that exists in the industry. People in positions of power and those of their enablers have normalised gender-based harassment and violence. But their time is up. It’s not okay to minimise the experiences of women who depend on the industry for their livelihood.
So as readers, question. Question so that repercussions take place. Question so that change can happen. We may not have any direct influence to ensure that all the women who spoke up in the Hema Committee Report receive justice. All we can do is support and keep fighting till their voices are heard.