Bol­ly­wood sex abuse al­le­ga­tions

The West Australian - - WORLD -

In­dian ac­tresses and writ­ers are flood­ing so­cial me­dia with al­le­ga­tions of sex­ual ha­rass­ment and as­sault, re­leas­ing pent-up frus­tra­tion with a law lauded in­ter­na­tion­ally but which crit­ics say has done lit­tle to change the sta­tus quo.

“Peo­ple us­ing so­cial me­dia to ar­tic­u­late their com­plaints should be recog­nised in the con­text of fail­ure. The sys­tem has in ef­fect failed us, has failed women,” TK Ra­jalak­shmi, pres­i­dent of the In­dian Women’s Press Corps, said.

The Sex­ual Ha­rass­ment of Women at Work­place Act of 2013 holds In­dian work­places li­able for sex­ual ha­rass­ment, and pre­scribes a sys­tem for in­ves­ti­gat­ing and re­dress­ing com­plaints.

The law builds on the land­mark 1997 Vishakha case, in which In­dia’s Supreme Court held that sex­ual ha­rass­ment at work vi­o­lated a woman’s con­sti­tu­tional right to equal­ity.

But nearly five years since the law came into ef­fect, many man­agers and em­ploy­ees are not aware of it.

In In­dia, “as women get more into the mar­ket­place and the work­place, their ex­pe­ri­ence of sex ha­rass­ment and vi­o­lence is a grow­ing area of con­cern but it’s not be­ing heard,” Naina Ka­pur, the lawyer who ar­gued the Vishakha case, said.

The so­cial me­dia storm be­gan last month when for­mer Bol­ly­wood ac­tress Tanushree Dutta spoke about her frus­tra­tion over a po­lice com­plaint filed in 2008 against ac­tor Nana Patekar for al­leged sex­ual ha­rass­ment.

Dutta said af­ter Patekar groped her dur­ing a dance rou­tine on a film set, she fled the set and a mob sur­rounded her car, smashed the wind­shield and trapped her in­side.

Patekar has de­nied the al­le­ga­tions, but Mum­bai po­lice have opened an in­ves­ti­ga­tion of the mat­ter af­ter Dutta filed a fresh com­plaint.

In New York, prose­cu­tors have dropped part of the sex­ual abuse case against US film direc­tor Har­vey We­in­stein. The dropped charge in­volves al­le­ga­tions made by Lu­cia Evans.

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