Emraan Hashmi’s production company will have an anti-sexual harassment clause. What’s so woke about that?
Umm... of course, it should. Why is that news?
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The #MeToo movement gets you things. It gets your story heard. It gets you an inch closer to getting justice. It probably even gets predators uncomfortable in their skin as the fear of being outed creeps in.
But for Emraan Hashmi, it gets him to a woke state of mind.
Or at least what he thinks woke is.
Basically, Emraan Hashmi has proposed an inclusion of an anti-sexual harassment clause in the employment contracts at his production house, Emraan Hashmi Films (EHF). The actor is turning producer with his upcoming film, Cheat India, which will be the first production under the EHF banner. And a celebrity image management company informs us of Hashmi's valiant move. This one, right here.
“In the wake of the #MeToo and #TimesUp movement, Emraan Hashmi has decided to include a clause incorporating the Sexual Harrassment (sic) of Women at Workplace act in his employee contracts and crew contracts to safeguard women at their workplaces and forewarn men to not cross the line,” reads the press release. However, we cannot help but wonder, what’s the big deal? Umm... aren’t you supposed to in any case as per the law of the land?
We’re getting a sense that Hashmi had this Eureka moment only “in the wake of the #MeToo and #TimesUp movement," and if the production company had been established a couple of years ago, let’s say, before one realised #MeToo wasn’t just a hashtag trending on Twitter, he would have probably done away with it.
The decision, however, was arrived upon after much deliberation, after “multiple conversations with his lawyers”, after drawing “from his own experiences of discussing agreements with production houses through the course of his career.”
It is interesting to note here that Hashmi has been a regular in most of Vishesh Films productions, a company headed by Mahesh and Mukesh Bhatt, his uncles.
It gets worse. “Such clauses are already in contracts in several industries, including MNCs,” Hashmi told a leading Mumbai-based tabloid, excerpts of which were used to put together the press release. Yes, exactly, they have been there, which means there's nothing new about this. In fact, they are in dire need of updating. ASAP. But more importantly, “No film production company has enforced it so far,” he added.
Phantom Films admitted that they failed to fire Vikas Bahl because their contract didn't allow them to. (Photo: Twitter)
So, you’re telling us that production companies in Bollywood, including the likes of Dharma Productions, Yash Raj Films, Red Chillies Entertainment, Excel Entertainment and Salman Khan Films — all headlined by bigwigs — do not have such provisions, even as the evils of the casting couch have been looming large over Bollywood for decades? Do they even have an internal complaints committee under the Vishakha guidlines and later, the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013?
In the very same article, Hashmi points out that “there’s still some amount of confusion about what amounts to sexual harassment,” — a statement which basically defeats the purpose entirely. If one is confused about what constitutes sexual harassment, how could one address it appropriately? (By the way, there’s no confusion, really. It’s not rocket science).
For a Vishesh cause. (Credit: YouTube still)
But, Hashmi asserts, that with the #MeToo movement that "started a decade ago, picking up steam in the West last year and inching towards India, with someone being outed almost every hour on the social media," such clauses have become imperative. “In the circumstances, lying (sic) down a universal moral code on the film set, dictated by the government’s guidelines, is the need of the hour,” Hashmi further adds.
We’re unsure if the pun was intended there.
Hashmi also wants to include other clauses concerning confidentiality and termination. We wonder if that will restrict survivours from coming out with their stories? We hope not.
But let’s give credit where it’s due. “In my company at least, it will include both male and female cast and crew members,” Hashmi elucidates his plans. And we’re with him on this. Though the number of instances of men being harassed by seniors — by both men and women — are fewer compared to the horror stories women have, and fewer still are reported, the inclusion of, and thereby protecting men under the anti-sexual harassment clause is imperative.
We’re glad that Hashmi is taking such a step — but it’s not that he deserves a pat on the back for that. Let’s nod at, not applaud, his move.