While the Indian film industry is still divided on backing Dutta, Cine and TV Artistes Association (CINTAA) has admitted that the decision taken by the Joint Dispute Settlement Committee of CINTAA and IFTPC (Indian Film and Television Producers Council) was not appropriate, as the chief grievance of sexual harassment wasn’t even addressed. CINTAA’s apology for lapses in handling Tanushree Dutta’s 2008 complaint against Nana Patekar deserves acknowledgement.

In an official statement, which is signed by the general secretary and spokesperson of CINTAA, actor Sushant Singh, the association has called the committee’s action in 2008 “highly regrettable”. The statement further makes CINTAA’s stand on sexual harassment clear. “We also appeal to all our members to report any such incidents to us immediately. We are duty bound to give them our complete moral and legal support to ensure just and safe working conditions.”

Back in 2008, the association had chosen to suffocate Dutta’s allegations. But ten years later, CINTAA is a more sensitised committee, one which is now committed to ensuring safe working conditions for women.

Unless the industry acknowledges that it has a problem, the situation wouldn’t improve

CINTAA’s statement reflects how the times have changed. It is a significant breakthrough since the film and TV industry is still battling accusations of sexual harassment at the workplace under the carpet. Barring a dozen or so of A-listers in Bollywood, not many have come out in support of Dutta. This denial, whatever may be the reason for it, is also a part of the problem. How do you expect to find the answer to a puzzle whose existence is denied? Almost everyone is pretending as if sexual harassment is a myth in Indian film and TV industry. So how does one figure out a way to deal with this elephant in the room?

SOME TAKEAWAYS

  • In an official statement, CINTAA has apologised for lapses in handling Tanushree Dutta’s 2008 complaint against Nana Patekar.
  • It is a significant breakthrough for the film and TV industry as it is still battling accusations of sweeping sexual harassment at workplace under the carpet.
  • This acceptance that the industry has a big problem at hand, is the first step to solving it.

Which is why CINTAA’s statement is so significant. This acceptance that the industry has a problem at hand, is the first step to solving it. Denying its existence is only going to make life worse for women in the industry. Also, this resistance from within Bollywood, to address Dutta’s allegations may be an attempt to protect many big and powerful names. But it is not worth risking the well-being of thousands of artists, both men and women, who face sexual abuse at the hands of these very names. The industry will have to one day realise what is at stake.

The more the film industry tries to suppress the problem, the bigger it will get.

Another important takeaway from this statement is how CINTAA plans to tackle sexual harassment in the future. The committee understands that not taking action to curb sexual harassment in the industry will be seen as an act of alliance with predators. And the current executive committee of CINTAA actually believes in the empowerment of women in the industry. They understand their duty towards those who have neither power nor support to confront their harassers.

Hoping that no man or woman has to ever relive Dutta’s ordeal may sound a bit far-fetched even today. What we can certainly expect, is that CINTAA manages to fulfill its commitment, so that in future survivors of harassment have a support system to help them in their ordeal.

Picture Credit: India Today

Also Read : Bollywood Is Like The Men’s Changing Room, Says Aahana Kumra

Yamini Pustake Bhalerao is a writer with the SheThePeople team, in the Opinions section.  The views expressed are the author’s own.

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