The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Manisha push to exposure law

New Delhi, Oct. 24: The Centre has decided to make “perverted” exposure of women’s and children’s bodies in the media a cognisable offence.

The decision to amend the 1986 Indecent Representation of Women Act and the Advertisement Code comes after Manisha Koirala’s campaign against Ek Chhoti Si Love Story and pressure from women’s organisations, including the National Commission for Women, and state governments, including West Bengal.

Though three ministries — health and family welfare, information and broadcasting and department of women and child development under the human resource development ministry — were already pushing for amending the Act, the Ek Chhoti Si Love Story row acted as catalyst.

The amended Act will make “perverted” exposure of women’s and children's bodies in print and electronic media a cognisable offence. It will also help curb child prostitution.

After the law ministry scrutinises the draft proposal, it will be placed before the Cabinet for approval, sources said. Former health minister C.P. Thakur, human resources development minister Murli Manohar Joshi and information and broadcasting minister Sushma Swaraj took personal interest in getting the draft ready.

The National Commission for Women went into an overdrive after its meeting with Manisha Koirala and sought a comprehensive law to curb “indecent” exposure in print and electronic media and the Internet. But government sources said that while the new law would take care of both print and electronic media, it was not as easy to regulate the Internet.

“Whether you want sell a tyre, car, cooker or soap, scantily-clad women models are used. The Page 3s are full of semi-nude women to lure readers. Several women’s organisations and NGOs are agitated about the growing and unchecked tendency to sell through titillation. This trend must go,” said a government official.

Sources said the amendments will ensure that reasonable restraint is exercised and decency maintained by advertisers and the media.

“The Act seeks to provide checks on over-exposure of women's bodies. The government is aware that mere enactment of law is not enough. Police and other enforcement agencies need to be sensitised for proper implementation and enforcement of the law,” the official added.

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