NPR

How One Act Of Bravery Inspired India's Movie Stars To Fight Sexual Harassment

This year, a top actress was kidnapped and sexually assaulted. No one thought she would speak out — but she did. Here's what happened next.
Sayanora Philip (foreground), a singer in Mollywood films, takes a selfie with fellow members of the newly formed Women in Cinema Collective. Source: Sayanora Philip

Every day seems to bring a new high profile case of sexual harassment in American media. It began with accusations against Harvey Weinstein. This week NPR's senior vice president of news was forced to resign over allegations against him.

But this problem is hardly limited to the U.S. For the past several months one of India's major film industries has been made to face up to similar problems in its own ranks after the sexual assault of a prominent actress. In reaction, women movie stars, directors and other film professionals have formed an unprecedented coalition to fight back.

They call themselves the Women in Cinema Collective, and the group includes some of the biggest names in "Mollywood." That's the nickname for the industry that produces movies in the 35-million-strong South Indian state of Kerala in the local language of Malayalam — and which is not to be confused with "Bollywood," the better known nationwide Hindi-language film industry based in the city of Mumbai.

Launched in May, the WCC has been lobbying both the industry and political leaders for a host of reforms — ranging from setting up an official complaints system through which women could report harassment and get justice

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