Over 300 women from the Indian film industry, who had written to Association of Malayalam Movie Artists protesting the reinduction of actor Dileep, have yet again shot off a letter to the body.
A copy of the letter was also released by a few women, including filmmaker Surabhi Sharma, at the venue of the International Documentary and Short Film Festival of Kerala, in Thiruvananthapuram.
Edavela Babu, the general secretary of AMMA, had replied to their first letter with the standard reply the association usually gives – that Dileep was initially expelled hastily when he was named an accused in the actor-assault case last year.
Babu’s letter had said that the bye-laws do not allow this and that he could be dismissed only if he is proved guilty by a competent court.
“We are writing to you once more, to express our extreme disappointment at the reply that you sent to our earlier letter, addressed to AMMA and signed by over 300 women film practitioners from all over India,” begins the letter to Babu.
They had pointed out in the earlier letter the injustice done to another member of AMMA, a survivor of the sexual assault for which Dileep is accused as the mastermind.
“By reinstating him while the case is still in court, it appears that you are showing your support for him, instead of standing by the woman member who was assaulted,” the letter says.
They have urged AMMA to suspend Dileep with immediate effect and extend unconditional support to the survivor.
They point out that the Sexual Harassment of Women at the Workplace clearly states that the complainant has the right to ask for a suspension of the accused until the inquiry is completed.
“We would like to know what steps AMMA is taking to form the complaints and redressal committee. While this particular case is with the police, there may be other complaints from the past or in the future. We expect you to form a credible committee that is trained by experts on how to conduct a fair and impartial enquiry,” the filmmakers said.
“We feel that WCC, AMMA members as well as leaders of the Malayalam film industry would benefit greatly from such a training and sensitisation. As per the law they need to hold themselves accountable. Please send us the draft of your plan so that we can make recommendations,” it adds.
The letter further says that they are in touch with gender justice and legal experts who have suggested that the committee be formed soon.
“WCC is willing to help AMMA implement the law and ensure that film professionals of all genders feel safe and respected. We would like to see this training conducted within the next 45 days,” the letter ends.
(This article was first published on The News Minute and has been republished with permission.)