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India court rules ban on female make-up artists is illegal
November 4, 2014, 11:23 am

India's top court has ruled that women should be able to work as make-up artists on film sets, breaking a long-standing men-only tradition.

A 59-year-old practice had barred women from becoming make-up artists, though allowed them to work as hairstylists.

Unions have resisted moves to allow women to do make-up, saying that it would hurt the livelihood of men, but the court said this was illegal.

India's has one of the world's biggest movie and TV entertainment industries.

Nine women had petitioned the court in January 2013, saying that they were not being allowed to work as make-up artists by a powerful Bollywood union.

The Supreme Court ruled on Monday that this practice was a "constitutionally impermissible discrimination".

"How can this discrimination continue? We will not permit this. It cannot be allowed under our Constitution. Why should only a male artist be allowed to put make-up?," Justices Dipak Misra and UU Lalit were quoted as saying in the Indian Express newspaper.

"We don't see a reason to prohibit a woman from becoming a make-up artist if she is qualified."

The court ordered India's Cine Costume Make-up Artists and Hair Dressers Association to end its ban on female artists "immediately".

"We are in 2014, not in 1935. Such things cannot continue even for a day," the judges said.

One of the petitioners, Charu Khurana, said she had learnt make-up from a school in California, but she was barred from working in Bollywood.

"I have worked on a couple of films but it has been tough. The unions are strong and come to the set to stop the film [when they find out that women make-up artists have been engaged]. Producers have to pay fines," Ms Khurana told the BBC.

"Lots of women make-up artists want to work in the films. And female actors would also find it convenient and comfortable if their make-up was done by a woman," she said.

Women make-up artists have been threatened and beaten up in India for attempting to work as make-up artists in films. Most women who are trained in make-up end up working for fashion shows and commercials and doing bridal make-up for a living.

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