WORLD Female journalists leading India’s #Metoo movement
As they share experiences, they start receiving reports of misconduct by prominent men
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.