Muted voice of #MeToo speaks up

Post - - LIFESTYLE -

HE WILL be re­mem­bered for start­ing the #MeToo move­ment in the In­dian fash­ion in­dus­try and giv­ing voice to those who have re­mained quiet all these years. Model Kawaljit Singh Anand,

pic­tured, says his fight is not just about one per­son and a spe­cific in­dus­try, and he feels this is the right time to get over the fear, shame and guilt as­so­ci­ated with such in­ci­dents and to speak up as part of the #MeToo move­ment.

“The start­ing point is when we ac­knowl­edge that a prob­lem ex­ists,” Anand told IANS. He said he was over­whelmed by the sup­port from the in­dus­try after he shared that de­signer Vi­jay Arora al­legedly tried to touch him in­ap­pro­pri­ately and his re­sis­tance, which re­sulted in a loss of work.

Anand last month nar­rated his or­deal via a Face­book post. He wrote: “In 2006, a Delhi-based de­signer told the panel openly when I went for the Lakme In­dia Fash­ion Week au­di­tion that nei­ther he will use me for his show nor let any of his other friends use me for theirs, so what’s the point hav­ing my name in the fi­nal list?

“The name of the de­signer is Vi­jay Arora and two of the pan­el­lists who are also big names in fash­ion told me this. They will read this and if they al­low I can take their names, as I know their in­tent was to do a fair job, but they were un­der pres­sure,” he said.

Arora has de­nied the charge.

Anand said all this had hap­pened be­cause “I pushed him away when he was try­ing to touch me in­ap­pro­pri­ately out­side a party and while I was walk­ing away an­grily he told me cat­e­gor­i­cally that he will make sure I never do any of the fash­ion weeks.”

He said sup­port from in­side and out­side the in­dus­try would not have hap­pened a few years ago. “If any­one spoke, the voices would get lost,” he said.

“When I shared my words, I had no ex­pec­ta­tion as no other guy had spo­ken ear­lier. To my sur­prise, be­sides the calls and mes­sages, a lot of peo­ple ac­knowl­edged that the prob­lem ex­ists and sup­ported me,” he said.

The Grasim Mr In­dia 2001 run­ner-up and Mr In­dia World 2007 has worked with the coun­try’s ace chore­og­ra­phers such as Marc Robin­son, Achala Sachdev, Anu Ahuja and also worked on Nannu Nanna Kanasu, a Kan­nada film di­rected and pro­duced by four-time Na­tional Award­win­ning ac­tor Prakash Raj.

Talk­ing about #MeToo, he said the time was right to speak up.

“I think the time is right in the wake of #MeToo and the way it has taken off is worth ap­pre­ci­at­ing. Peo­ple are ad­dress­ing the is­sue and talk­ing about it, get­ting over the shame and guilt as­so­ci­ated with this is­sue,” he said.

But why did the fash­ion in­dus­try wait for a #MeToo move­ment to talk about such is­sues?

“Peo­ple re­acted ear­lier in their own ca­pac­ity. Now the time has changed and peo­ple are ready to speak. Hon­estly speak­ing, if I had put out my story two years back, I don’t know if many peo­ple would have heard it. In the in­dus­try, peo­ple are aware of it, but out­side of it no­body ac­knowl­edges such things hap­pen to men. Now we are ready to talk.”

So, does he see a change for aspir­ing mod­els?

“I would like the change to hap­pen. I took a sab­bat­i­cal in Au­gust 2017 and do not see my­self re­sum­ing any­time soon, as I am ex­plor­ing an­other av­enue pro­fes­sion­ally. But I want this to change at a per­sonal level.

“Yes, overnight change doesn’t hap­pen, but I think those who are in power should take up the re­spon­si­bil­ity. Ad­dress the is­sue, speak up and try to make a change,” he said. – IANS

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