WORLD Fe­male jour­nal­ists lead­ing In­dia’s #Metoo move­ment

As they share ex­pe­ri­ences, they start re­ceiv­ing re­ports of mis­con­duct by prom­i­nent men

StarMetro Vancouver - - WORLD - Vidhi Doshi

NEW DELHI—A cas­cade of al­le­ga­tions of rape, sex­ual as­sault and mis­con­duct in­volv­ing prom­i­nent In­dian men has flooded so­cial me­dia since Fri­day, spurring res­ig­na­tions, the clos­ing of a movie pro­duc­tion com­pany and pub­lic apolo­gies.

More than a year af­ter al­le­ga­tions of rape and sex­ual as­sault against Hol­ly­wood pro­ducer Har­vey We­in­stein first shook the world, fe­male jour­nal­ists and writ­ers in In­dia are nam­ing and sham­ing In­dian en­ter­tain­ers, news­pa­per ed­i­tors, au­thors and a politi­cian on so­cial me­dia.

Some say In­dia’s #Metoo mo­ment is here — at last. Writer Sand­hya Menon and Bol­ly­wood ac­tress Tanushree Dutta have seen an out­pour­ing of #Metoo al­le­ga­tions in In­dia.

“We’ve faced vi­o­lence, in­clud­ing ver­bal vi­o­lence, all our lives,” said Ri­tu­parna

Chat­ter­jee, a jour­nal­ist who is doc­u­ment­ing and com­pil­ing ac­cu­sa­tions against prom­i­nent

men. “Some­where, I think, we’ve snapped.”

The lat­est al­le­ga­tions be­gan to ap­pear on so­cial me­dia last week, then turned into a tor­rent. They be­gan af­ter a for­mer ac­tress, Tanushree Dutta, re­told the story of how on a movie set a decade ago, her co-star Nana Patekar, an award-win­ning ac­tor, had tried to change a dance se­quence at the last minute so he could touch her in­ap­pro­pri­ately. A hand­ful of Bol­ly­wood stars spoke out in sup­port of Dutta, trig­ger­ing a huge back­lash on so­cial me­dia, as many chal­lenged and triv­i­al­ized her ac­count of the in­ci­dent.

In a tele­vised state­ment Mon­day, Patekar said his lawyers have ad­vised him not to ad­dress the al­le­ga­tions. “I would say what I said 10 years back, the truth doesn’t change,” he said, ref­er­enc­ing his de­nial when Dutta first made the ac­cu­sa­tions.

Dutta’s al­le­ga­tions co­in­cided with Judge Brett M. Ka­vanaugh’s con­fir­ma­tion hear­ing in Wash­ing­ton and the tes­ti­mony against him by Cal­i­for­nia pro­fes­sor Chris­tine Blasey Ford. “Of course, ev­ery­one was dis­cussing that,” Chat­ter­jee said. “The thing in my mind was, I know this guy. I’ve met this guy. I’ve met this guy over and over again.”

To Chat­ter­jee, Ford and Dutta have be­come sym­bols of the way women’s sto­ries are sti­fled or ig­nored. “You can have the ev­i­dence,” she said. “But she’ll never have the power to counter the hate that men have for women who speak up and threaten the sta­tus quo.”

Af­ter that, Chat­ter­jee said, “The flood­gates opened.” Al­le­ga­tions poured out to fe­male jour­nal­ists in pri­vate mes­sages and on­line groups.


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