From lawyers to B-town, #Metoo gets strong sup­port

Oman Daily Observer - - INDIA -

NEW DELHI: From two Mum­baibased lawyers vol­un­teer­ing to pro­vide le­gal aid to vic­tims of sex­ual ha­rass­ment and as­sault, to Bol­ly­wood per­son­al­i­ties like Swara Bhasker and Malaika Arora com­ing out in the open to sup­port women who have shared their ex­pe­ri­ences, the cur­rent #Metoo wave in In­dia re­fuses to die down any­time soon.

Lawyers Mrunalini Desh­mukh and Vaib­hav Kr­ish­nan have vol­un­teered to pro­vide le­gal aid to vic­tims without charg­ing any fee. Not only this, the In­dian Film & Tele­vi­sion Di­rec­tors’ As­so­ci­a­tion (IFTDA) has is­sued no­tices to all the di­rec­tors who have been named by women for sex­ual ha­rass­ment or as­sault.

IFTDA Pres­i­dent Ashoke Pan­dit said no­tices had been sent to the ac­cused film-mak­ers, in­clud­ing Sa­jid Khan and Vikas Bahl, seek­ing their re­sponse within 10 days. If they do not re­spond, their names would be placed on the ‘non-co­op­er­a­tion’ list, fol­low­ing which the women could ap­proach the two lawyers who have come for­ward to pro­vide le­gal help, he added.

The #Metoo move­ment be­gan a year ago in Hol­ly­wood af­ter The New York Times and The New Yorker pub­lished sev­eral sto­ries about decades-long pre­da­tion of movie mogul Har­vey We­in­stein.

How­ever, it gained mo­men­tum in In­dia af­ter Tanushree Dutta re­cently ac­cused vet­eran ac­tor Nana Patekar of sex­ual ha­rass­ment. Fol­low­ing her rev­e­la­tion, ac­cu­sa­tions are be­ing made against some pow­er­ful per­son­al­i­ties in the me­dia and the en­ter­tain­ment in­dus­try, in­clud­ing Sa­jid Khan, Alok Nath and Vikas Bahl.

In an in­ter­view, Malaika said that if “women are com­ing for­ward and talk­ing about their sto­ries, it’s the big­gest thing to hap­pen.”

Swara, on the side­lines of the Lo­tus Make-up In­dia Fash­ion Week (LMIFW), said that the “#Metoo move­ment was a long time pend­ing in In­dia and it’s good that it has fi­nally come out”.

“Ku­dos goes to all the women who are brav­ing their past trauma and re­liv­ing it and claim­ing their own sto­ries with their own names,” she added.

Ac­tor Fardeen Khan has come for­ward to sup­port the #Metoo cam­paign by say­ing that women who are ac­cus­ing men of sex­ual ha­rass­ment de­serve the ben­e­fit of doubt. How­ever, he said proper in­ves­ti­ga­tion needs to be done as it can de­stroy the ca­reer and life of an in­di­vid­ual.

While many came out in sup­port, there are some who em­pha­sised on proper in­ves­ti­ga­tion so that no in­no­cent is tar­geted.

While Hrithik Roshan has urged the pro­duc­ers of his up­com­ing film “Su­per 30” to take a “hard stand” amid sex­ual ha­rass­ment al­le­ga­tions against the movie’s di­rec­tor Vikas Bahl, the ac­tor’s ex-wife Sus­sanne Khan has taken a neu­tral stance by say­ing that women shouldn’t make false al­le­ga­tions about an in­di­vid­ual without any le­gal ev­i­dence.

While sup­port­ing all the brave women who have spo­ken out against their per­pe­tra­tors, jew­ellery de­signer Farah Khan wants just the truth to be stated with no ex­ag­ger­a­tions as some may try to mis­use it.

Bahl’s ex wife Richa Dubey came out in sup­port of the film-maker and slammed ac­tress Kan­gana Ra­naut for say­ing that the “Queen” di­rec­tor used to ‘bury his face in her neck’ and “hold her re­ally tight”.

Dubey took to Twit­ter on Fri­day and ques­tioned Kan­gana, who has worked with Bahl in “Queen”, on why she con­tin­ued to have a good friend­ship with the film-maker de­spite his in­ap­pro­pri­ate ac­tions.

Bahl was ac­cused by a woman, who was a pre­vi­ous Phan­tom Films em­ployee, of sex­u­ally ha­rass­ing her re­peat­edly af­ter the first in­ci­dent in 2015 in Goa. Af­ter that, Kan­gana came out in sup­port of the al­le­ga­tions against Bahl.


Jour­nal­ists hold plac­ard at a protest against sex­ual ha­rass­ment in the me­dia in­dus­try in New Delhi on Satur­day.

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