India's #MeToo Moment Has Become a Movement, Women Have Had Enough
The rape trial of journalist Tarun Tejpal, which has been pending since the last five years, could prove as testimony to the fate awaiting others called out
In what began as Indian actress Tanushree Dutta calling out veteran film actor Nana Patekar for harassing her at the sets of one of her films in 2008, India’s witnessed its #MeToo moment explode into a movement. Women took charge, and in less than a week scores of sexual harassment accounts were exposed on social media.
The unfortunate series of accusations include women being sent lewd pictures, texts and videos along with invitation by powerful men to indulge sexually without consent. Similar to the West, Indian women have spoken out about objectification in more than just the film industry. Journalists have come out with chilling details about being bullied by some of the more established peers. Assault cases are also being reported against comedians, writers, singers, directors, authors among many others.
The Indian film industry, which is known to maintain silent on controversial issues, saw the onset of the #MeToo movement with actress Tanushree Dutta calling out veteran actor Nana Patekar on a film set ten years ago.
Her bold move encouraged actresses including Kangana Ranaut and Nayani Dixit to speak out against popular filmmaker Vikas Bahl (the man behind Netflix’s Sacred Games) of sexual advances. Filmmaker and actor Rajat Kapoor was exposed by three women who called out his misbehavior.
Filmmaker and scriptwriter Subhash Kapoor was accused by actress Geetika Tyagi of molestation. Actress Flora Saini spoke of harassment by producer Gaurang Doshi. Bollywood singer Sona Mohapatra accused singer Kailash Kher of sexual misconduct.
Veteran TV writer, producer and director Vinta Nanda alleged rape by yesteryear TV star Alok Nath. Navneet Nishan, Sandhya Mridul and Deepika Amin also called out Nath for inappropriate behavior.
An unnamed woman called out actor Rohit Roy of assault.
Photographer Pablo Bartholomew is alleged to have harassed a woman after she met him for an interview. Photographer at 22feet Tribal Worldwide, Aniruddha Das, was called out.
Authors & Lyricists
Author Chetan Bhagat was called out for sending inappropriate texts. Writer Kiran Nagarkar’s name was also called out in misconduct accusations. An assault survivor called out noted author Suhel Seth for sexual harassment.
Lyricist and writer Varun Grover was called out for alleged misbehavior. Playback singer Chinmayi Sripaada accused lyricist Vairamuthu of misconduct.
AIB, one of the most popular comedy groups in India, has seen the biggest hit of the #Metoo movement. After women named the company’s founding member Tanmay Bhat and Gursimran Khamba of sexual misconduct, Bhat stepped down as co-founder and CEO and Khamba was sent on leave. The group lost contracts from online streaming platform Hotstar and its future is in a limbo.
Their former member, actor-comedian Utsav Chakraborty, was also called out by more than two women for sending nude pictures.
In the first from the LGBTQ community, comedian Kaneez Surka accused comedian Aditi Mittal of forcefully planting a kiss on stage.
Media witnessed the exits of high-profile journalists after they were named and shamed on social media.
The National Political Editor of The Hindustan Times, Prashant Jha, had to step down after sexual harassment complaint by a former reporter at the newspaper.
India’s largest media company Times of India’s Hyderabad-based Editor KR Sreenivas was called out for sexual harassment by seven women in a petition to the newspaper and has been sent on administrative leave.
Gautam Adhikari, former executive editor at Times of India and former editor-in-chief of DNA in Mumbai, resigned from his position as senior fellow at the Center for American Progress after at least three journalists called out his unwanted advances and forced assault.
Hindustan Times’ Manoj Ramachandran was called out by a journalist for sending inappropriate text messages.
Huffington Post’s former Trends Editor Anurag Verma was called out by women for sending a suggestive Snapchat video with sexual connotation; he admitted to the offence and apologized on Twitter.
Business Standard’s journalist Mayank Jain was called out by women journalists for making unwelcome advances. Jain resigned with immediate effect.
Indian media startup The Wire’s co-founder Sidharth Bhatia has been called out by two women journalists for harassment; the charge was rubbished by Bhatia.
Another media startup The Quint’s Meghnad Bose was accused of harassment by at least three women who studied with him in college. Bose issued an apology on Facebook.
Advertising company Publicis’ Executive Creative Director Ishrath Nawaz has been accused of harassment by a former colleague. The national creative director of iProspect India Dinesh Swamy, has been accused of misconduct. The ex-creative director at Webchutney, Omkar Sane, was also called out.
Women accused Creativeland Asia’s Sajan Raj Kurup of harassment. Famous Innovations’ Raj Kamble was called out for misbehavior. Aditya Pawan, international brand marketing manager at Red Bull, was called out. The chief creative technologist at DDB Mudra Group, Brijesh Jacob, was alleged of misconduct.
Kartik Iyer, CEO of Happy mcgarrybowen, has been accused of harassment.
Sudarshan Banerjee, the co-founder of Utopeia Communicationz, has been accused of workplace harassment via an anonymous post on social media.
At many as nine harassment accounts came to the limelight against the former newspaper editor M J Akbar, who is currently Minister of State for External Affairs and a member of the Upper House. Akbar is yet to comment on the allegations.
In the past, whistleblowers expose has led founder of viral content company TVF’s founder Arunabh Kumar to step down. Indian angel investor Mahesh Murthy is fighting a legal case filed by a woman entrepreneur for alleged misconduct. Her naming and shaming Murthy led four others to come out and speak against harassment by him.
While India’ Child and Women Development Minister Maneka Gandhi assured harassment of any kind will not be tolerated, the #MeToo India movement exploding is just a tip of the iceberg of the years of oppression women have faced.
What happens to such exposes and social media outbursts? The rape trial of journalist Tarun Tejpal, which has been pending since the last five years, could prove as testimony to the fate awaiting others called out.