Bollywood sex abuse allegations
Indian actresses and writers are flooding social media with allegations of sexual harassment and assault, releasing pent-up frustration with a law lauded internationally but which critics say has done little to change the status quo.
“People using social media to articulate their complaints should be recognised in the context of failure. The system has in effect failed us, has failed women,” TK Rajalakshmi, president of the Indian Women’s Press Corps, said.
The Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace Act of 2013 holds Indian workplaces liable for sexual harassment, and prescribes a system for investigating and redressing complaints.
The law builds on the landmark 1997 Vishakha case, in which India’s Supreme Court held that sexual harassment at work violated a woman’s constitutional right to equality.
But nearly five years since the law came into effect, many managers and employees are not aware of it.
In India, “as women get more into the marketplace and the workplace, their experience of sex harassment and violence is a growing area of concern but it’s not being heard,” Naina Kapur, the lawyer who argued the Vishakha case, said.
The social media storm began last month when former Bollywood actress Tanushree Dutta spoke about her frustration over a police complaint filed in 2008 against actor Nana Patekar for alleged sexual harassment.
Dutta said after Patekar groped her during a dance routine on a film set, she fled the set and a mob surrounded her car, smashed the windshield and trapped her inside.
Patekar has denied the allegations, but Mumbai police have opened an investigation of the matter after Dutta filed a fresh complaint.
In New York, prosecutors have dropped part of the sexual abuse case against US film director Harvey Weinstein. The dropped charge involves allegations made by Lucia Evans.