NWMI stands with WCC, condemns aggression of male journalists at recent press conference

NWMI (Network of Women in Media, India) extends its unstinting support to the Women in Cinema Collective (WCC) of the Malayalam film industry in its relentless crusade to seek justice for a Malayalam actor who was sexually assaulted in February 2017. WCC has been fighting against the apathy of the Association of Malayalam Movie Artistes (AMMA) in Kerala, that has reinstated actor Dileep who is accused of masterminding the assault on the survivor (Dileep was suspended from AMMA following his arrest last year but was arbitrarily reinstated when he got out on bail this year).

While NWMI had already expressed its solidarity with WCC earlier, the need to reaffirm support has cropped up recently, in the context of the unacceptable bout of male aggression unleashed at the WCC press conference held at Ernakulam Press Club on October 13, 2018.

We are shocked at the utter insensitivity and hostility with which some of our journalist colleagues in Kerala confronted the group of women artistes addressing the media, knowing that these women have bravely shouldered a responsibility that civil society as a whole should have taken on.

The press conference had been called to discuss the existing assault case but half a dozen male journalists present began demanding fresh revelations. They went to the extent of bullying the WCC members, shouting that their "fight against AMMA" was futile if they refused to name more offenders and bring up newer cases, as though the fight against sexual harassment is a variety entertainment show.

We wish those in charge of news organisations would take serious note of the negative image that such reporters bring to the journalistic profession. Indeed, we distance ourselves from these rotten apples in the barrel.

We cannot but reassert that we are firmly with the rape survivor and the women spending their time and energy to get justice for her. We stand shoulder to shoulder with these champions of women's rights in their cause to end patriarchy in film and media.

Meanwhile, NWMI welcomes the announcement by actor Rima Kallingal and director-producer Aashiq Abu that an Internal Complaints Committee (ICC) will be formed at their production house, OPM Cinemas, as per the stipulations of the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act,  2013. This initiative is an important step forward in the bid to create gender equality and a woman-friendly work culture in the Malayalam film industry, and will hopefully serve as a useful template for film industries in the rest of the country.

October 16, 2018

Read NWMI’s June 2018 statement in support of WCC here