Tuesday December 10, 2019
Home India India’s...

India’s #MeToo Movement Makes The Most Glamorous Industry Its Subject Of Scrutiny

While India has been under the spotlight for sexual violence against women, sexual harassment at the workplace has seldom been under scrutiny.

1
//
#MeToo, women, sexual harassment
Bollywood actress Tanushree Datta presents a creation by designer Sanjeet Anand at the Bangalore Fashion Week in Bangalore, India. VOA

India is in the midst of its #MeToo moment as leading figures from the country’s entertainment and media industries face a volley of accusations of sexual misconduct from growing numbers of women.

The firestorm has had a powerful impact. In recent days two leading editors have stepped down, a Bollywood production house has been shuttered, India’s top comedy troupe faces an uncertain future and a popular author has apologized.

#MeToo
India’s Minister of State for External Affairs M.J. Akbar (front) arrives in Venezuela’s Caribbean island of Margarita for the 17th Non-Aligned Summit in Venezuela. VOA

The allegations have also touched the government. India’s junior foreign minister, M.J. Akbar, is among those named by several women journalists for alleged misconduct during his previous tenure as a leading journalist and editor. He has not yet responded to the allegations and foreign minister, Sushma Swaraj, did not comment either.

The trigger for India’s #MeToo campaign came from Bollywood actress Tanushree Datta who last month filed a police complaint in a 10-year-old case alleging that a leading actor, Nana Patekar, behaved inappropriately during a film shoot. He has denied the accusations and sent her a legal notice.

Soon after, a female comedian, Mahima Kukreja, accused a former member of comedy group All India Bakchod, Utsav Chakraborty, of sending her lewd messages and photos. Following similar accusations by other women, Chakraborty apologized on Twitter saying, “It’s a little too late, but I am sorry.”

The two allegations appeared to have touched a nerve among many women in media. During the past few days, there has been an outpouring on social media from scores of women journalists sharing their experiences of inappropriate behavior, ranging from suggestive messages to unsolicited advances with #MeToo.

#MeToo
Christine Blasey Ford testifies before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Sept. 27, 2018 in Washington. VOA

The Network of Women in Media group called it a “watershed moment for all of us in journalism,” and said it encouraged more women to “document their accounts without fear or inhibitions.”

In the glitzy Bollywood industry, producer and writer Vinta Nanda, accused actor Alok Nath of sexually abusing her almost 20 years ago on a Facebook post. Nath has told a news agency, “It must have happened, but someone else would have done it.”

Nanda told reporters the movement taking place is “very encouraging, very enabling and this is the reason why I have brought it up.”

Lawyer Vrinda Grover who has helped draft India’s laws on sexual abuse and harassment, said that enabled by technology and social media, women had spoken out because in a new environment, “They will not be immediately blamed as in the past.” On the other hand, it is bringing consequences for harassers.

A high profile movie company, Phantom Films, was dissolved after HuffPost India published an investigation alleging that one of the founders, Vikas Bahl, had assaulted a female employee after a party in 2015. The other partners apologized for mishandling her complaint.

#MeToo
Queen” star Kangana Ranaut hasn’t been far behind in calling out Bahl,

A popular author, Chetan Bhagat, issued an apology after a woman uploaded a screen shot of a text in which the married writer said he wanted to “woo” her.

The editor of a leading newspaper, Times of India, K.R. Sreenivas, has been sent on leave pending an investigation after several women accused him of making sexual propositions. The political editor of another popular daily, the Hindustan Times, Prashant Jha, stepped down after a former colleague accused him of harassing her.

Amid a global movement to hold powerful men accountable for sexual misconduct, Indian women have picked up courage, said journalist Rituparna Chatterjee. “The floodgates to women’s anger have been opened.”

Some women said they were inspired by the testimony of Christine Blasey Ford, the university researcher in the United States, who accused, without evidence, U.S. supreme court judge nominee Brett Kavanaugh of sexually assaulting her when they were teenagers. He is now a Supreme Court justice.

#MeToo
The hushed whispers are getting louder. Flickr

This is not the first time when efforts have been made to bring the #MeToo movement to India, but in the past it has quickly faded away. Last year for example, a crowd-sourced list of academics accused of harassment got little attention.

Also Read: Nana Patekar Denies Accusations of Sexual Harrassment

But lawyer Vrinda Grover calls the ongoing spontaneous campaign a “significant moment” in the effort to address workplace harassment. But she points out that the women who have spoken out largely represent the educated, urban elite and says it will be much harder for those working on shop floors, on construction sites and as household maids to bring attention to their stories.

While India has been under the spotlight for sexual violence against women, sexual harassment at the workplace has seldom been under scrutiny. (VOA)

  • P. B. Josh

    Although this exposure applies only to the famous men, it surely will open eyes of less successful men involved in this kind on action. But just like men many women employees are also lazy/useless/inefficient etc. So punishing those women employees could be tricky for bosses because they can claim punishment for their refusal for bosses’ advances.

SHARE
  • P. B. Josh

    Although this exposure applies only to the famous men, it surely will open eyes of less successful men involved in this kind on action. But just like men many women employees are also lazy/useless/inefficient etc. So punishing those women employees could be tricky for bosses because they can claim punishment for their refusal for bosses’ advances.

Next Story

Legendary Musician AR Rahman To Create Anthem for Global Climate Change Initiative

The project aims at raising money and awareness for the cause of climate change

0
AR Rahman
While details about composition by AR Rahman are awaited, it has come to light that the number will thematically be reminiscent of "We are the world." Wikimedia Commons

India’s Oscar-winning music maestro AR Rahman is pitching in with a creative contribution for Hollywood music veteran and humanitarian Ken Kragen’s climate change effort. Rahman, along with a team of international composers, will create a track titled “Hand in hand” for the initiative.

Kragen, who was honoured with United Nations Peace Medal in 1985 for producing the historic charity anthem “We are the World”, has joined hands with entertainment entrepreneur Neil Morgan to set up an augmented reality (AR) project named “Hands Around The World”.

The project aims at raising money and awareness for the cause of climate change. The initiative will be launched on April 22 next year, on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of Earth Day. The AR app will also be launched the same day, reports variety.com.

While details about Rahman’s composition are awaited, it has come to light that the number will thematically be reminiscent of “We are the world.”

“The mind of the human race is hard wired to seek higher ideals and wisdom. For that, the very first step is to protect that which holds us – planet earth,” Rahman said.

Kragen added: “It is easier to accomplish the impossible than the ordinary.”

AR Rahman
India’s Oscar-winning music maestro AR Rahman is pitching in with a creative contribution for Hollywood music veteran and humanitarian Ken Kragen’s climate change effort. Rahman, along with a team of international composers, will create a track titled “Hand in hand” for the initiative. Wikimedia Commons

The AR app will allow people to download 3D volumetric-captured celebrity holograms and take photographs standing beside them, holding their hands. They will then combine users’ photographs with hundreds of millions of others to form a virtual selfie chain that will become the digital “Hands Around the World”.

Users will be prompted to spread the word and encouraged to donate towards ending climate change.

ALSO READ: Bollywood Legend Waheeda Rehman Turns into Wildlife Photographer

“There are people that will deny climate change but they can’t deny pollution. Our project intends to galvanise and unite people like never before, in a positive and fun way to help save the planet,” said Morgan. (IANS)