Petition Closed
Petitioning Justice Verma Commission

Indian Cinema's should be sensitive and respectful towards women and not show scenes/ songs that may lead to influencing young minds to disrespect women

The recent case of the brutal rape of a medical student in Delhi has highlighted the sad state of affairs in India. Infant foeticide, domestic violence against women, dowry death's etc are part of the same malaise that has afflicted the system, where women are looked down upon, objectified and treated as second rate citizens. Certainly yes, the government needs to enact tougher laws to punish the guilty. However, what is the film industry (which is largely responsible for influencing the way young minds think) doing to help (or not help) the cause of women? Particularly but not exclusively in south Indian movies the hero is often depicted treating the heroine with disrespect, engaging in eve teasing, and this is considered machismo. The woman is expected to just live with it. Even when rape scenes are shown, the plight of the woman is shown but the rapist is shown to suffer any consequences. Is this not sending the wong message?

Often movies have 'item songs' where women are objectified as objects of sex, dressed in less than skimpy clothes. The recent song 'Dreamum Wakemum' from the movie Aiyaa, is a case in point, where the lyrics leave no room for doubt as to the intent of the song. Have you ever seen/ heard such crass song lyrics from the west, especially in a family movie? Is it not time that Bollywood behaves more responsibly and maturely?

In the olden days we used to talk about movie's having double-meaning dialogues. However directors and writers have become much bold and have done away with the need to be less-brazen about the import of their dialogues. The majority of film-goers are young, vulnerable, adults, whose minds can be moulded either to become rapists and eve-teasers, or to become responsible and respectful young men and women. How do we want to mould them?

A number of film stars in recent days have come forward to condemn the rape of the young girl. But has anyone owned up responsibility for showing women in bad light in cinema's?  Can't an established actress, not refuse to act in an item number? Do actresses not have a responsibitlity to avoid scenes that might influence men to abuse/ disrespect women? I am not talking about movie's where such scene's are necessary or part of the story/ plot. But the majority of such scenes are only included to titillate the audience and draw crowds!

I urge all actors/ actresses/directors/producers/ writes to refuse to make any movies/ scenes that show item numbers/ objectify women or where eve-teasing is shown as just a normal part of life, which one should accept.

Bollywood, it is time you take responsibility for your actions. Please think before you act. If atrocities against women have to stop, everyone needs to take responsibility for their actions! The excuse that 'movies only reflect what the society thinks', is lame. Please follow Aamir Khan's example and make movies that change the society. 

Letter to
Justice Verma Commission
We often blame the influence of western culture for the increasing crime rates in India. However what is the role of Indian cinema in influencing young minds? Hollywood movies, though they do show nudity and sex, seldom treat women with disrespect. Even prostitute's are respected in western cinema. On the contrary, Indian cinema's though they do not show as much nudity/ sex, almost universally show disrespect and humiliate women. This is particularly common in South Indian Cinema's. However, 'item numbers' shown in Bollywood movies, do not do any service to the cause of women. Cinema's have a big role to play in influencing young minds. If a hero is shown behaving boorishly with the heroine, and it is still okay since he is the hero, what is the message getting across: that some forms of behaviour are acceptable? How is it right for a Bollywood hero to whistle at or harass women when the rules are not the same for the trouble-makers we see in public places?

As Mr. Aiyar says in his article in the Times of India ( 'What’s truly terrible is the manner in which film heroes have for decades pestered, stalked and forced their unwanted attentions on heroines in a thousand films, yet ended up getting the girl. That sends the most outrageous of all messages to the public: pestering girls is what heroes do, and a girl’s “no” actually means “yes.”'.

Actor-director Farhan Akhtar says:.“There are films in which romantic wooing has been replaced by a kind of harassment of the heroine. The heroes of these films could be considered stalkers in some civil societies. Now imagine that this actor is a role model to millions... wouldn't his fans think this behaviour is okay? Now imagine that this actress is a role model to millions... what message does it send to women across the country?”

Secondly when rape scenes are shown in movies, it is very important to send a strong message across to the audience that the culprit in all cases is severely punished. Often, the culprit gets away and the woman is the one being shown to suffer, all her life. This lets young minds think that rape is a crime that they can get away with. However, if film makers make it a point to show that justice is meted out to the culprit, this will send a strong message across to the audience.

The objectification of women in the entertainment industry not only harms women's self image in particular (and thus her right to dignity) but promotes stereotypes that are harmful to the equality rights of women in general. Both these rights are guaranteed under our Constitution. Is it any surprise that even policemen don’t take women’s complaints seriously?

If atrocities against women have to stop, I request that the committee proposes action against movies that objectify women as sex symbols and disrespect them. Sex and nudity can be shown in movies and women can still be respected. These are not mutually exclusive! We urge the Justice Verma commission to please consider these important issue's and instruct the Central Board for Film Certification, accordingly. We believe that a message to the Bollywood film Industry from the commission, asking actors/ actresses and directors to be more sensitive, would go a long way in fostering this cause.