Sexual harassment in arts world: Sabhas body provides some key info

Harishankar Krishnaswami, the secretary of the Federation of City Sabhas, Chennai ( who also manages Narada Gana Sabha, Alwarpet) posted this note after the setting up of the ICC for the body to address complaints of sexual harassment by artistes. “I shall provide answers to few of the frequently asked questions,” he noted.

1. Has the Federation identified members from Dance and Theatre for its panel?
Yes. Smt. Revathi Ramachandran, Dancer and Director of Kalakshetra and Mr. Swaminathan, Stage artiste of Shraddha Drama troupe will be the other panelists, apart from those already named.

2. Who will be the Executive Officer, who will be receiving the complaints?
Mrs. Poongkhulali, Advocate, has consented to act as the Executive Officer and she has been practising law and specifically dealing with such harassment cases. She will also help us formulate policies and draft code of ethics, etc.

3. Will all panelists be on the enquiry committee and what if any panelist is conflicted by reason of being connected with either a complainant or the accused?
The Federation’s panel currently has 7 members. Each Complaints Committee will have only 5 members. From among the 7 panelists and the member Sabha representatives the Complaints Committee of 5 will be constituted for hearing each case. This is 5 member committee constitution is done on a case to case basis only to avoid any conflict situations.

4. Would the member Sabhas or the Federation’s advisors have any say in the Committee’s decisions?
NO. Each Complaints Committee enquiring a Complaint will be an independent body guided only by the law applicable to the facts situation presented before them. The Federation’s members have resolved to act as per the recommendations of the committee. The Federation’s advisors will have no role to play in the committee’s enquiry proceedings.

The intention of the Federation is to create an effective forum where grievances can be addressed confidentially and at the same time by following principles of natural justice. We hope to evolve and learn from experience.

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