NHRC notices on Telugu actress’ sexual exploitation claim

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Hyderabad, April 12 (IANS) The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) on Thursday sent notices to the Telangana government and the Union Information and Broadcasting Ministry over a Telugu actress’ allegations of sexual exploitation.

The commission took suo moto cognizance of media reports about the allegations raised by actress Sri Reddy and a lack of grievance redressal mechanism for women in the film industry.

Reddy created a sensation by resorting to strip protest against casting couch in Tollywood in front of the office of Telugu Film Chamber of Commerce here on April 7.

The actress, who started her career as a news reader on a Telugu channel and also did small roles in a couple of films, named a few prominent personalities of the industry.

She started ‘SriReddyLeaks’ page on Facebook to expose those exploiting women aspiring to work in films.

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She has questioned the Telangana government and the Movie Artists’ Association (MAA) on the absence of a Committee Against Sexual Harassment.

The Commission observed that the contents of the media reports, if true, tantamount to inaction of the part of the state government.

“The Commission is of the opinion that the reported prohibitions imposed upon the actress, barring her to act in the films and stopping others to work with her are violation of her right to livelihood and live a life with dignity,” said an NHRC release.

It issued notices to Telangana’s Chief Secretary and the I&B Ministry Secretary, calling for a detailed report in the matter within four weeks.

The Commission also observed that reportedly action against the actress has been taken under IPC’s Section 294 (obscene acts in public) but it is nowhere mentioned if the authorities have taken any action on her allegations.

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Therefore, it appears to be an attempt to muzzle the voice of the whistleblower both from the sides of MAA and the state authorities.

The Commission said the issues raised by the actress demand action on part of the state government in the form of a committee to address and redress the grievances of the female actors and women employees.

The panel noted that actress staged a semi-nude protest outside the Telugu Film Chamber of Commerce and an annoyed MAA not only dismissed her allegations but also declared that she will not be given its membership under any circumstances.

The MAA has even reportedly said that action will be taken against any artiste who decides to share screen space with her.

The MAA, which filed a police complaint against the actress, has said action against her has been taken as per rules, the NHRC said.

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