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

You're reading a preview, sign up to read more.

More from NPR

NPR3 min readTech
'Please Help Me.' What People In China Are Saying About The Outbreak On Social Media
Residents in Wuhan and other Chinese cities affected by the Wuhan coronavirus are using platforms like Weibo to share their fears and frustrations.
NPR2 min read
J.S. Ondara: Tiny Desk Concert
After first trying to win our annual Tiny Desk Contest, the singer-songwriter from Nairobi decided to put out a record, got nominated for a Grammy and wound up here anyway.
NPR11 min read
20 Years Later, How Does It Feel?
Hailed as a neo-soul smash in 2000, D'Angelo's Voodoo now feels decades more lived-in than its peers. The album's engineer, Russell Elevado, says sounding "old" became the key to sounding timeless.