#MeToo In India: Journalists Calls Out Predatory Behaviour In Media; Name & Shame Alleged Sexual Harassers
After Raya Sarkar‘s list of sexual harassers in academic circle, the waves of #Metoo have again hit the Indian shores. The social media has exploded with the allegations of ‘sexual harassments, assaults, and abuses’. On a topic like sexual harassment which is more often than not swept under the rug, this time more and more women amongst Indian Film Industry, Standup Comedy Circuit, and Newsrooms are speaking up.
The recent quake that started with Tanushree Dutta alleging misconduct of Nana Patekar and Vivek Agnihotri has now jolted AIB – All India Bakchod, Phantom Pictures, Business Standard, Quint, Newslaundry and many other news organizations as well.
On Friday, many women journalists actively came out and narrated their stories on Microblogging site Twitter. The sexual harassment was not just limited to workplaces but went much beyond that. Some chose to speak up openly about it while some stayed behind the veil of anonymity.
Sandhya Menon, a journalist, and writer alleged that several years ago KR Sreenivas, a senior The Times of India editor had made inappropriate gestures towards her. In fact, she also revealed a series of similar stories that many women had recounted about the same editor on Twitter. On the top of that, several other women came out, mostly anonymous and spoke against Sreenivas. Responding to the allegations KR Sreenivas has said that The Times of India has formed a committee to look into the matter and he shall depose before them.
I was 20/21 and interning with Femina, Bangalore (which shares an office with TOI) during my summer break. Sreeni lived in my neighbourhood. I bumped into him while running an errand for my mother and he asked where I lived, told me where he lived, general chit-chat.
— Pavitra Jayaraman (@Pavitra_J_) October 5, 2018
Menon made another stunning allegation against Gautham Adhikari, who at the time of the incident was the editor-in-chief of DNA Bombay. She alleged that Adhikari had kissed her forcibly which was seconded by Sonora Jha, a writer and professor. Menon actively shared other testimonies on Twitter. Adhikari has refuted the allegations and said that he cannot recall the incident or the person at all.
Sandhya – Thank you for exposing Gautam Adhikari. He sexually harassed me when I was Chief Of Metro Bureau at Times Of India Bangalore. He was Executive Editor. Called me to his hotel room to discuss flexible hours and then the same assault you described – sick kiss from a toad.
— Sonora Jha (@ProfSonoraJha) October 6, 2018
In a testimony shared to Sandhya Menon, a woman accused Kiran Nagarkar, author and film critic of molesting her. According to her allegations, the molestation occurred in a hotel room where she had gone to interview him.
Most woman journalists probably know a hotel room assault
This about Kiran Nagarkar pic.twitter.com/32lut5Zsd3
— Sandhya Menon (@TheRestlessQuil) October 5, 2018
Meghnad Bose, a reporter at The Quint, was also accused of sexual harassment by two of his Asian College of Journalism batchmates in 2015.
Powerful account from an ACJ batchmate (2014-15) who quit Quint because of Meghnad's emotionally abusive ways.
"This is not sexual harassment, this is not molestation, this is not sexual assault, this is how it drove me to the brink of mental instability to just be near him." pic.twitter.com/EECxp8Wn5T
— Poulomi (@PouloCruelo) October 7, 2018
Meghnad took to Facebook and apologised for his behaviour
I am unconditionally apologetic for the incident at my place described by Poulomi.Poulomi, I am really, really sorry…
There are many voices against Sadanand Menon writer, journalist, critic and former teacher at Asian School of Journalism. Many girls have accused sexual harassments on the hands of Sadanand Menon. After strong protests against him, Menon had to leave Asian College of Journalism.
This is going to give me hell, but I'm going to do this for women and men everywhere who have and are interacting with him. Sadanand Menon. Please stay away from him. And please don't put him on panels. Thanks https://t.co/gKciplinWZ
— Divya Karthikeyan (@divya_krthk) October 5, 2018
Two journalists, Anoo Bhuyan from The Wire and Japleen Pasricha, founder of the website-Feminism in India shared their experiences how Mayank Jain of Business Standard made unwarranted and avoidable sexual advances towards them. In fact, their allegations were supported by screenshots shared on Twitter. Several others, including some of his former colleagues, accused him of sexual misconduct.
13. Internal committee set up at @bsindia to investigate allegations on Mayank Jain.
Jain not sent on leave/ fired.
Committee may not have mandate to administer due process.
Ill depose if required.
Other women can consider deposing.
Pls stay in touch.https://t.co/i0LMcwuo5a
— Anoo Bhuyan (@AnooBhu) October 7, 2018
The trigger of the #MeToo was when actor Tanushree Dutta spoke about how she was harassed by Nana Patekar. However, as the nature of the movement is, once an allegation surfaced against an individual many others too find the courage to bring forth their ordeals.
Phantom Films, a production house was dissolved recently after a HuffPost India report alleged that a former woman employee of Phantom accused Vikas Bahl, one of the co-founders of sexually assaulting her in May 2015 at a hotel in Goa.
The account was also seconded by actress Kangana Ranaut who told ‘Miss Malini’ that “he was scared of me but still every time we met socially greeted and hugged each other …. he’d bury his face in my neck …. hold me really tight and breathe in the smell of my hair …. it took me a great amount of strength and effort to pull myself out of his embrace, he’d say…. “I love how you smell K… “ I could tell something is wrong with him…..I believe this girl ….” (Her verbatim quote)
My statement in light of the recent HuffPost article and breaking up of Phantom . There are two pages.. pic.twitter.com/WCAsaj6uFR
— Anurag Kashyap (@anuragkashyap72) October 7, 2018
One of the most prominent groups in the comedy circle, All India Bakchod announced that it was cutting all its ties with former employee Utsav Chakraborty who was accused of sexually harassing many women. In fact, one of the persons who came ahead with the allegations was a minor. Chakraborty apologized in his tweet saying, “It’s a little too late now but I am sorry, I really am… I can’t think of myself as a victim anymore. Please tell me what to do now.” His tweet was followed by an apology from the comedy collective AIB.
The Logical Indian take
It is an important moment in the Indian history where women are speaking about the daily harassment and ordeals they go through in their workplaces. No matter whether we agree or disagree with them, it is an important moment for everyone to understand what constitutes sexual harassment and when one crosses the boundary. At the same time, it is a lesson for media organisations – that they should have special cells at their workplaces which are formed specifically to deal with cases of sexual harassment. Such cells should ensure that there is a conducive environment for their journalists to work at. They cannot sweep the matter under the rug now and have to ensure gender sensitized environment for their employees.