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Telangana government forms a special panel to address sexual harassment cases in Tollywood

The Telangana government has finally constituted a high-level committee to inquire into PIL filed by women’s organizations last year in the wake of Sri Reddy’s allegations of sexual harassment in Tollywood. A government order bringing the committee into effect was released early this month.

Telugu actress Sri Reddy’s strip protest and allegations about sexual harassment in Tollywood had created a major stir in the south Indian film industries. After Sri Reddy accused big names in the Telugu film industry of sexual harassment, over 15 women’s rights organizations in the city met the then Minister of Cinematography Talasani Srinivas to set up a committee to address the issues of women in cinema. They also demanded a police probe to look into the complaints. It took the Telangana government over a year to furnish a government order and set up a panel.

Under GO 984, the government has instructed the panel members to look into the issues and furnish suitable recommendations to the government to take necessary action to protect women artists in the film and television industry.

The panel constituted by the government includes some prominent names from the film industry, women’s rights organizations, Women and Child Welfare Department and the city police. Professor Vasanthi from the NALSAR University, Dr. Rama Devi, a doctor at the Gandhi Medical College and Vijaya Lakshmi, social activist, have been made part of the committee. Actors Supriya, Jhansi Laxmi, and director Nandini Reddy will be voicing representing the film fraternity.

The panel also includes Ram Mohan Rao, chairman of the Telangana State Film Development Corporation (TSFDC), prominent police officials, producer Tamareddy Bharadwaj, and director-producer Sudhakar Reddy. The chairman of the TSFDC will act as the chairman of the committee and its managing director will be the convener.

After actor Sri Reddy’s protest in April last year, the Telugu Film Chamber (TFC) had constituted a Sexual Harassment Redressal Panel (SHRP) to look into the complaints from the women artists in the industry. Taking cognizance of the matter, the TFC had also made it mandatory for all production houses in Tollywood to constitute an Internal Complaints Committee (ICC). But these bodies were time and again accused of being bogus institutions because of the ineffective redressal mechanisms and delay in ensuring justice to the survivors.

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