Sexual harassment: Myth or reality

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By Faz Zia
The #MeToo movement kicked of when Hollywood “Godfather” Harvey Weinstein horrific stories came out, since then people have found the courage to speak out about their own stories and claim justice. There has been a new wave of #MeToo allegations hitting Bollywood celebrities and affecting the status of various upcoming projects. This includes comedy sequel Housefull 4, whose director, Sajid Khan, had to step down from the project following sexual misconduct allegations. The film starring Akshay Kumar and produced by Sajid Nadiadwala was to be distributed by Fox Star Studios. Actor Akshay Kumar said that the shooting of his upcoming film Housefull 4 would be cancelled following sexual misconduct allegations against the film’s director, Sajid Khan. Similarly, Amir Khan, one of India’s biggest stars, and his wife, producer Kiran Rao, have pulled out of a film that their production company was set to make, over allegations of sexual misconduct against an unnamed filmmaker on the project.

Bollywood’s #MeToo movement was sparked when 34-year-old former actress Tanushree Dutta accused veteran actor Nana Patekar of harassment on the sets of the 2008 film Horn OK Pleasss. After she first shared her ordeal on social media two weeks ago, which went viral, Dutta filed a police complaint this week alleging that Patekar grabbed her arm and pushed her on the pretext of teaching her dance moves and touched her “indecently and unnecessarily.”Following Dutta’s accusations, a wave of allegations of sexual misconduct against various industry personalities have hit social media to tell their stories.

Many big Bollywood names have come out to support the movement and spoke about their views, such as Saif Ali Khan, who said that his family is safeguarded from unwelcome advances. Speaking at an event in New Delhi, Saif Ali Khan said: “It is a very unequal society. I don’t think anyone will misbehave with my people. I don’t know why I feel like this, but be it my mother or sister or wife, I feel people will not have the guts to do that with them.”  Similarly many others raise their voices to support the movement.

Although the #MeToo movement is good, it has been suggested that many are using this to gain publicity, to blackmail other parties and to defame others which is not a spirit of this movement. Also, any sexual harassment is not bound just to be in media industry, it is in every work place such as cooperate world, politics, and not necessarily just women- man can also be sexually harassed and need to come forward. This movement is not only for women it is for men too, ask men how they get exploited to get the job in any industry especially in fashion and media industry, how they have been harassed from the casting, directors, photographers, designers and other big names.

I am amazed that Hollywood to Bollywood, everyone has come out to speak about harassment and show their support, but the Pakistani Industry is quiet. We just heard Meesha Shafi and she is also been silenced. Everyone knows how the Pakistani Media Industry works, if you dig enough you will find out thousands stories, without any “favours” you can not be a star and this is a bitter reality. If a women don’t compromise on their respect, integrity and be confident to say “no” then slowly but gradually one day there won’t be exchange of “favours” or any kind of harassment.

When I was penning these lines, one of my friends who reads my columns with great interest, suggested me to add some lines on sexual harassment from women as well. This sort of harassment is like two-way traffic. Men can easily be made target by a women but what about professional women who have made it the way for their popularity, blackmailing and grabbing the money. “We believe a woman is vulnerable but an innocent man is more vulnerable as this society is branded as male-dominated but we forget the exploiting tactics of a loose-character woman”, she said adding that dig the dearth; you will find thousands of stories of ‘dirty women”. “Only men are not dirty, the women as well”.