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#MeToo movement sweeps into Indian media

By The Rediff News Bureau
Last updated on: October 08, 2018 11:45 IST
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Twitter erupts with women from the media outlining horrifying tales of sexual harassment and molestation.

Photograph: Issei Kato/Reuters

This time last year, the world was awakened to a radical and path breaking movement: #MeToo.

The movement took flight as The New York Times newspaper and the New Yorker magazine published reports revealing movie mogul Harvey Weinstein's decades-long predatory behaviour with women.

Since then, Weinstein has been banished from Hollywood, is the subject of a criminal investigation in New York City and more and more victims have spoken out about the horrors behind show business's doors.


Now, a year later, it appears that the #MeToo movement, a rallying cry for women everywhere, has reached Indian shores with women in the Indian media calling out sexual predators on Twitter and making it clear that they have had enough.

It began with Bollywood actress Tanushree Dutta.

Returning to India, after spending eight years in the United States, Dutta spoke about how she had been allegedly harassed by Nana Patekar on the sets of a 2008 film, Horn OK Pleassss.

Dutta's allegations were the tip of the iceberg.

On October 4, writer Mahima Kukreja blew the lid off sexual harassment in India's burgeoning comedy circuit when she wrote about comedian Utsav Chakraborty sending her a picture of his genitalia without her consent.

For those who don't know of Chakraborty, he is a stand-up comic who has freelanced with the popular comedy collective, All India Bakchod.

Kukreja's charges empowered several others to come out and speak up about the sexual harassment they had faced at Chakraborty's hands. The comedian had allegedly asked minors to send nude images of themselves.

All India Bakchod issued a statement apologising for its conduct (see full statement) after it was revealed that Tanmay Bhatt, a founder of the collective and a popular stand-up himself, knew about Chakraborty's behaviour and yet continued to work with him.

Chakraborty also issued a statement, after initially being belligerent about the accusations, saying he was sorry and 'asking what he could do to make things right and not hurt anyone, anymore'.

Following this, on Friday, Twitter erupted and women from the media started outlining horrifying tales of sexual harassment and molestation.

Anoo Bhuyan, a reporter at The Wire Web site, tweeted about how a journalist had asked her to sleep with him because he 'thought I'm a woman like that' (You can see the full thread here: external link).

Journalist Sandhya Menon shared an account of how a senior editor of The Times of India had put his hand on her thigh and tried to imply that he was available.

Photograph: Kind courtesy @TheRestlessQuil/Twitter

Menon went on to outline the incident vividly and also described what happened when she went to the human resources team with her complaint.

The Times of India, in its response to the allegation, issued a statement which said it was very compliant with the Vishaka guidelines and took sexual harassment very seriously.

Journalist @priyakamal tweeted: 'Ten years ago, as a cub journo, I was harassed at The Hindu by a senior business reporter in Hyderabad. I wasn't believed immediately. TH didn't have an internal committee either. Had to withstand that creep for 3 months before they finally let him go with full benefits... #MeToo'

Many women alleged incidents where sexual harassment complaints weren't taken seriously at media organisations.

These incidents are being widely shared, raising the hope that women's harassment at the workplace will now be taken seriously.

However, only time will tell if #MeToo brings about a real change or if this will become just another story to report.

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