Hema Commission report too sensitive to be published as it is: Kerala Culture Minister Saji Cherian

Justice Hema panel report on issues faced by women in film industry can't be made public: Kerala Govt
Saji Cheriyan

Kerala Culture Minister Saji Cherian said that retired Justice K Hema herself had told the government not to publish the Hema Commission report as it included the private accounts of a number of women who were victims of gender exploitation in the Malayalam film industry.

"The report cannot be published as it is," the minister said in reply to a submission moved by RMP MLA K K Rema in the Assembly on Thursday.

Nonetheless, the minister said that legislation to prevent the atrocities against women in the film industry was inevitable.

"We are going ahead with the preparations to draw up such a legislation," Saji Cherian said. He said the date for a meeting with a number of stakeholders in the Malayalam film industry, including the Women in Cinema Collective (WCC), had already been finalised.

"The suggestions that come up in the one-day meeting will be used to prepare the draft legislation," the minister said.

Rema had earlier said that it would be an insult to women if the government continued to keep the Hema Commission report hidden.

"It is said that the report has detailed, with mobile screenshots and audio clips, the grave exploitation of women and the profound violation of human and fundamental rights within the Malayalam film industry," Rema said.

"It has been two years and two months since the Hema Commission had submitted its report and the government is still not ready to publish the 300-page report findings are still kept a secret," she added.

She said that many women had given their statements to the Commission. "It is said that many women had opened up about the casting couch that is so prevalent in the industry. They have also testified to the widespread use of drugs in the industry," Rema said.

The Vadakara legislator and the wife of the slain RMP leader T P Chandrasekharan wanted the government to release the report with the names of the women deleted.

The three-member Hema Commission was formed on February 1, 2017, after the WCC members met Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan in the wake of the actress assault incident. Besides retired Justice K K Hema, the Commission had as its members actress Sarada and writer Valsala Kumari. The Commission had submitted its report in 2019.

The minister said that he had convened a high-level meeting on July 13, 2021, to discuss ways to implement the recommendations of the Hema Commission report.

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