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Kamal Haasan names sexual assault victim, NCW chief demands apology

Hours after Tamil actor Kamal Haasan named the sexual assault victim in the Malayalam actor abduction and sexual assault case, National Commission for Women (NCW) chairperson Lalitha Kumaramangalam demanded an apology from the actor.

regional movies Updated: Jul 14, 2017 20:51 IST
Press Trust of India
Kamal Haasan,Malayalam actor sexual assault,Dileep
Tamil film actor Kamal Haasan (PTI File )

National Commission for Women (NCW) chairperson Lalitha Kumaramangalam has demanded an apology from actor Kamal Haasan for publicly identifying the Malayalam actor who was abducted and sexually assaulted in a moving car in Kerala.

Kamal Haasan during the launch of Tamil version of reality show- 'Bigg Boss', at a press conference in Chennai. ( PTI )

“We are taking suo motu cognisance of the matter and sending him a letter asking him to apologise or retract his statement,” Kumaramangalam said.

The actor, speaking to the media on Wednesday, had named the actress while answering a question on the security of women in the film industry. “Why is it the safety of women in the film industry alone? A female’s presence in the crowd is important to me and I will not let anything happen to her. It’s our duty to see if you are safe. It is not just about actresses. We are not supporting her (mentions the name), because she is an actress,” he said.

When it was pointed out that sexual assault victims should not be identified, he said, “It doesn’t matter if I have used the name. You have put out her name everywhere. Do not hide the name as there is nothing wrong with it. If you want to call her Draupadi, call her Draupadi. Don’t call her ‘a female’.”

Haasan was addressing the media regarding a complaint raised by a fringe Hindu Group over the ongoing Tamil reality TV show, Bigg Boss, which he hosts.

Kumaramangalam said the actor’s statement revealed the “patriarchal mindset” among “VIPs, big guys...whether they are in politics or not in politics”. “It also shows lack of humility in him and that’s what we are going to say (in the letter). It is very arrogant to say that somebody else has said it so I will say it too,” she said, adding that the letter would be sent soon.

Haasan, is “undoubtedly a brilliant actor, but that doesn’t give him the right to say something “so insensitive”, said Kumaramangalam.

To name minor victims and victims of sexual assault or printing or using their name which makes their identity known is prohibited by the law. Section 228 A of the Indian Penal Code bans the disclosure of the identity of victims of certain offences, including sexual assault, barring specified circumstances.

Violation of this can be punished with a fine or imprisonment which may extend to two years. “He (Kamal Haasan) can’t be booked by us but someone else like the victim herself or fans can lodge a protest. The police can do it on their own also. When someone like him who has billions of fans says something like this, it sets a bad precedent,” said Kumaramangalam.

The NCW chief also said all that the actor had to do was apologise.“If he has made a mistake it won’t make him small to say that ‘I am sorry’. In fact, he doesn’t even need to use the word ‘sorry’ -- he could just say, ‘I didn’t mean to say it’. People of his stature should have the common sense and humility to understand the sensitivity of such situations,” she said.

Kumaramangalam, who conceded that she felt “strongly” about public figures being “insensitive”, had issued a notice to actor Salman Khan for “trivialising rape” in a press meet in Mumbai last July.

Haasan’s reference was to an actress of Malayalam films who was abducted and raped in February this year. The popular Malayalam actress, who has worked in Tamil and Telugu films, was abducted and allegedly molested inside her car for two hours by the accused, who had forced their way into the vehicle on February 17 and later escaped in a busy area

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First Published: Jul 14, 2017 20:48 IST