MeToo in India: Dharma, YRF, Aamir Khan Productions, Fox Studios insist they comply with Vishakha guidelines

MeToo in India Dharma, YRF, Aamir Khan Productions, Fox Studios insist they comply with Vishakha guidelines

As #MeToo takes over online conversations in India, cases of misconduct and sexual harassment from the world of showbiz — cinema, TV and stand-up comedy — have proliferated. Stories of harassment and abuse from Indian media too have been reported, as women are speaking out after years, even decades.

Given these revelations, it is only natural to wonder what top producers and film studios are doing to make their work environment safe for women. Firstpost has reached out to film production companies and independent banners to find out if they comply with government-stated guidelines for harassment and abuse. A bunch of corporate and independent producers have since claimed they strictly adhere to regulations on sexual harassment at workplace.

Leading players from India, Dharma Productions and Yash Raj Films, claim they are in compliance with mandatory government regulations on sexual harassment.

“We have a Registered Internal Complaints Committee at Dharma Productions to specifically look into cases of sexual harassment, which has been in place since the last few years. It has representation from women within various roles in the company and also includes a neutral third-party representative from an NGO activist from outside the company. We have stringent guidelines in place and a gender-neutral hiring policy is followed; we have women employees working across departments, right from the back office to the fieldwork to production. Along with having guidelines, for every industry, it becomes imperative that all individuals in the company are made aware of the zero-tolerance policies. We take these issues very seriously, with the safety of women in the work space being our utmost priority,” says Apoorva Mehta, CEO, Dharma.MeToo

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“We are complying with mandatory requirements and continue to do so on an ongoing basis,” a spokesperson of Yash Raj Films responds.

A spokesperson for Aamir Khan Productions said, “We have an Internal Complaints Committee for over four years. Currently, it comprises individuals from within our organisation and the chairperson is someone who is outside of our organisation to ensure a fair and robust redressal of any complaint. Majority members of the committee are women.”

Music label and film production company T-Series claim to work with a non-profit organisation centered on women’s welfare to ensure safety of its female employees. Sameer Mukherjee, Human Resources head, stated, “A large part of our identity comes from our work. So, it is imperative that both men and women feel good and safe about their work environment. As per government guidelines, T-Series has a Women’s Complaint Committee in place. The committee comprises of senior women office bearers from within the company. The committee also has on board a representative from NGO SHAURYA.”

Among international film studios that operate in India, policies around sexual harassment at the workplace are followed stringently. A spokesperson of Star India, the mother company of Fox Star Studios, stated, “Star India has a fully functional internal complaints committee (Star ICC) formed in accordance with the provisions of Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013 (POSH Act) also comprising an independent member who presides over all sexual harassment complaints. The Star ICC handles all sexual harassment complaints with alacrity and extreme amount of diligence and sensitivity in accordance with the procedure set out under the POSH Act. In the event a movie is being produced by Fox Star Studios during which there is an incident of sexual harassment of woman employee, including a contracted employee, then she is entitled to approach the Star ICC and file a complaint with full confidentiality and protection.”

A spokesperson of Sony Pictures India said, “We are following the applicable laws in this regard for the safety and well-being of employees. We believe in safe workplace for both men and women and discourage harassment of any kind and sexual misconduct at the workplace.”

Independent producers too have taken the lead in following stated guidelines to prevent sexual harassment. Vipul Shah has strict rules both for his employees and visitors at his office. “We follow this rule at our company: whoever comes to our office for work, irrespective of their sex, isn’t permitted one-on-one meetings. No executive from our office is permitted to meet them alone. Individual meetings are held in a transparent glass cabin. It’s all about making people feel safe whenever they come to our office,” he said.

Anushka Sharma’s Clean Slate Films too follows guidelines that are in accordance with harassment policies. “Clean Slate has an anti-sexual harassment policy and there exists a committee, which as per the requirements of the Vishakha Guidelines, consists of female members as well. We are committed to providing a safe and enabling work environment to all our colleagues,” said a company spokesperson.