One Year Of #MeToo: Stories Of Sexual Harassment, Assault That Rocked India
A year since #MeToo movement took India by storm, The Logical Indian brings to you a summary of startling stories from the field of entertainment, politics, media among others, that brought to light the harassment, assault, sexual innuendos that women braved and quietly withstood for years.
The domino effect of America’s #metoo hit the Indian subcontinent last year in October 2018. Ironically, it gained sharp momentum at the time when the country was enthused in the celebration of Navratri, a festival devoted to Indian goddesses.
The time became a poignant symbolism of the movement that emboldened many women to narrate their sexual assault stories, which were earlier cornered and forgotten.
It began when the testimony, by Tanushree Dutta, surfaced on the internet where she alleged Nana Patekar of sexual harassment during her shoot for the 2008 film ‘Horn Ok Please’.
While some criticized calling it a publicity stunt and some appreciated her act with equal fervour, it indeed empowered many women and men to take up the social media platforms and call out their molesters.
From politicians to actors, to bureaucrats – there wasn’t an industry spared by the movement.
While the credibility of the cases remained ever-dubious, it definitely carved a path towards inclusive discussions about an issue as sensitive as this, which was earlier a taboo.
Here are some infamous cases of #metoo allegations that made news in 2018-
Vikas Bahl V/S Kangana Ranaut
A former employee of Phantom Films accused director Vikas Bahl of sexually harassing her on the set of Queen, a film starring Kangana Ranaut which was released in the year 2014. Kangana Ranaut also came in support of the former employee alleging Bahl of passing a move and lewd comments on her in the set. Following this, Nayani Dixit, Ranaut’s co-star in the movie, levelled similar accusations against Bahl.
Alok Nath V/S Vinta Nanda
Veteran actor Alok Nath was accused of rape and misconduct by TV producer Vinta Nanda who worked with him in the TV show Tara in the mid-1990s. While Nath quashed the charges calling it a rumour, actresses Renuka Shahane, Himani Shivpuri, Sandhya Mridul, and Deepika Amin have also spoken about Nath’s predatory behaviour or wrote about the harrowing incidents. Following the testimonies, Nath was later expelled from the Cine and TV Artists Association (CINTAA).
NEWS AND MEDIA –
Allegations against The Times Of India, Editor
K R Sreenivas, Resident Editor, The Times of India, faced the allegations of sexual harassment, psychological torture, and sending explicit material over the phone. The editor was made to resign on November 13, 2018.
Hindustan Times Editor accused of assault
On the 8th of October 2018, Prashant Jha stepped down as the Chief of Bureau and Political Editor of the Hindustan Times, a leading daily newspaper, after charges of sexual harassment filed against him by a former employee.
POLITICS AND LAW –
MJ Akbar V/S Priya Ramani and Tushita Patel
In October 2018, MJ Akbar, India’s Minister of State for External Affairs, was the first public servant in high office to be accused of sexual harassment by several female colleagues and senior journalists. At least ten allegations have surfaced against Akbar including Priya Ramani’s case and Tushita Patel’s testimony.
Later Akbar wrote a 41-page letter to Delhi’s chief metropolitan magistrate, which accused journalist Priya Ramani of defaming him on false grounds.
Journalist Tushita Patel (wife of Aakar Patel, director of Amnesty International India) published an article on Scroll.in detailing instances of sexual harassment by Akbar during meetings with him in the early 1990s when he forcibly kissed her and left her traumatized.
M.J. Akbar resigned from the post of Minister of State for External Affairs on the 17th of October, having decided to fight the allegations made against him in his personal capacity.
CJI Ranjan Gogoi V/S Former Supreme Court Employee
In April 2019, Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi was accused of sexual harassment by a former employee of the Supreme Court Of India. While a three-judge internal investigation committee gave him a clean chit, the decision was severely criticised for being opaque, unfair and one-sided, thus violating principles of natural justice. Gogoi described the allegation as an attempt to hamper the independence of the judiciary and a threat to democracy.
Alumni of the Symbiosis Centre for Media and Communication (SCMC) in Pune took to social media to share their stories of harassment under the hashtag #metoo by some faculty members and their seniors. About 25 students and alumni of the college shared their ordeals and levelled charges against the senior professors following which a committee was formed to look into the matter.