India's Supreme Court lifted a nearly six decade-old ban prohibiting women from working as makeup artists in movies.
In a ruling Monday, the court said the Mumbai-based union for makeup artists and hairdressers would have to end its discriminatory practice and admit female makeup artists.
The Cine Costume, Make-up Artists and Hair Dressers Association had defended their ban saying it was intended to protect the livelihood of male makeup artists, the Wall Street Journal reported.
Charu Khurana, a Delhi-based makeup artist trained in Los Angeles, had brought the case against the union two years ago after she found it impossible to get work in Bollywood, the Associated Press reported.
Khurana was denied membership to the union in 2004. They also rejected her application for a makeup artist ID card.
"They excluded me because I was a woman," Khurana told reporters. She said she managed to do some film work "quietly in vanity vans" with insufficient pay. "I was used to someone else taking credit for my work," she said.
Judge Dipak Misra criticized the union's ban on women. "We are in 2014, not in 1935. Such things cannot continue even for a day," he said.
"How can it be said that only men can be makeup artists and women can be hairdressers? We don't see a reason to prohibit a woman from becoming a makeup artist if she is qualified," Misra said.
Khurana said no one in the film industry resisted this unconstitutional practice for years.
"I wanted to fight back. I wanted to earn a livelihood in the field that I have been trained," Khurana said.
The president of the association said that it will abide by the Supreme Court's order.
However, some of the union's 2,000 all-male members are threatened by the ruling.
"We will accept whatever the Supreme Court decides," Stanley D'Souza, a makeup artist and general secretary of the union, told LiveMint.com. "But we may lose out on our jobs if women are allowed to enter the field."