It has been three weeks since India’s #MeToo movement began in earnest. In that time, scores of women have come out with their accounts of sexual harassment at the hands of men from different walks of life, including a minister in Narendra Modi’s government.
The accounts that have emerged in the past three weeks are of sexual harassment and even molestation at the workplace but also of unpleasant incidents and advances in work situations where women felt their ability to do their job was severely compromised. The movement has spawned greater consciousness about the rights of women employees to a safe workplace free from all forms of harassment and discrimination. It has also triggered a debate on the possible remedies, including legal action, for older incidents, as well as on the deficiencies in the current administrative and legal approach to workplace harassment. Other debates have also emerged – how to deal with anonymous allegations and how the movement can become more inclusive, since Dalit voices have not yet found representation.
The single biggest outcome of the movement to date has been the resignation of M.J. Akbar, who was minister of state for external affairs, after no less than 16 women came on record alleging sexual harassment by him in the late 1980s and early 1990s. All of the alleged incidents occurred when he was a newspaper editor in New Delhi, well before he joined the Bharatiya Janata Party. Akbar has filed a defamation case against the first woman who named him, Priya Ramani.
The movement began on September 25, 2018 when Bollywood actress Tanushree Datta accused actor Nana Patekar of sexually harassing her on the sets of a movie almost ten years ago. A few days later, on October 4, Mahima Kukreja, a young Indian woman and comedian from Mumbai, posted her #MeToo story on Twitter, alleging that a fellow comedian Utsav Chakraborty had sexually harassed her by unsolicitedly sending her photos of his genitals. Other women came forward with similar stories about Utsav. The next day, journalist Sandhya Menon, a freelance journalist based in Bangalore, provided an account of separate incidents of sexual harassment by editors at three newspapers where she had worked. The Wire‘s Anoo Bhuyan tweeted about an unwelcome sexual advance by a reporter from another newspaper. What followed then was a deluge of personal stories and accounts.
In this round-up, The Wire chronicles the impact of the #MeToo movement across 14 areas, including Indian politics, media, entertainment, art, law, sports, education and the corporate sector. The Wire has only reported on those incidents where the complainant has identified both herself and the person she has accused of specific acts of harassment.
Sexual harassment allegations via #MeToo have hit some of India’s biggest and oldest English language news organisations – senior editors from legacy publications have stepped down, resigned or been suspended in the past three weeks in the face of allegations and/or in-house investigations into allegations against them have begun.
Former DNA and TOI editor-in-chief, Gautam Adhikari, has quit the US think-tank Centre for American Progress (CAP) after he was accused of kissing at least three women in office without their consent. “I do not recall any of these incidents which are being alleged from so many years ago,” he said in a statement. “I left my honorary non resident position from the Center for American Progress because my reputation has been severely damaged and I didn’t want to involve the organisation in any embarrassment.”
K.R. Sreenivas, resident editor (Hyderabad) of Times of India resigned after journalist Sandhya Menon and six other women sent a petition to Bennett Coleman and Co. Ltd. detailing accounts of harassment by him.
The Wire has set up an external committee headed by Justice Aftab Alam to probe Nishtha Jain’s complaint against its consulting editor Vinod Dua, a charge he denies. His programme, Jan Gan Man ki Baat has been suspended till the end of the inquiry process. The Wire has said it will not carry any statement or comment by either party or anybody else on the subject matter of the allegations until termination of the inquiry proceedings with the report and/or recommendations of the committee, whose members are of unimpeachable integrity and impartiality.
Hindustan Times’s bureau chief Prashant Jha stepped down from his position after a lawyer who earlier worked at the newspaper as a journalist, Avantika Mehta, accused him of approaching her for a relationship. Though the exchange of messages she posted occurred after she had left the newspaper, Jha, who is married, said he was resigning because the allegation raised “moral questions” about his conduct and he did not want his newspaper to suffer.
A Business Standard reporter, Mayank Jain resigned after The Wire’s Anoo Bhuyan and others alleged that he had made an unwelcome proposition for sex and was also refusing to back off despite her refusals.
NDTV has promised to investigate a case of sexual harassment from 2014 against one of its employees.
Huffington Post issued a statement addressing allegations made against ex-employees Anurag Verma and Utsav Chakraborty. Verma apologised and Network18, where he now works, said the company’s internal committee shall ensure speedy and effective redressal on complaints filed against him and another employee.
A Bloomberg Quint journalist apologised for his behaviour with a woman colleague which has been followed by an official statement by the organisation (Bloomberg Quint), replying to social media posts about him, conveying their zero tolerance policy towards sexual harassment at the workplace.
The Quint’s internal complaint committee sent its reporter Meghnad Bose, on administrative leave after his batchmates from Asian College of Journalism accused him of sexual harassment. Bose issued a statement of apology soon after the allegations surfaced.
Newslaundry’s internal committee has started investigating allegations made against an employee who works in business development and public outreach with them.
The employees of the Times of India submitted an internal petition asking for accountability for sexual harassment. Times of India also released its official policy on how importantly it takes allegations of #MeToo which are coming in, and how they have been proactively reporting these allegations. Hindustan Times has decided to conduct mandatory workshops on sexual harassment.
The Mumbai Press Club and Network of Women in Media (NWMI) have also issued statements standing in solidarity with survivors of sexual harassment and held discussions on sexual harassment laws and the way forward in Mumbai. A joint statement has also been issued by Indian Women’s Press Corps, Press club of India, Press Association and South Asian Women in media expressing their concerns over non-implementation of sexual harassment laws. Firstpost’s ‘#MeToo conversations’ is an ongoing event on discussion around #MeToo and sexual harassment with panelists who have been at the forefront of #MeToo movement on social media. NWMI is also currently conducting a survey on sexual harassment in Indian newsrooms.
Women reporters from Khabar Lahariya, a grassroots network of women journalists in rural and backward regions of India, have also written an open letter compiling their stories of sexual harassment in journalism and survival. They say that the growing awareness around sexual harassment has meant that men have stopped sending them unsolicited porn videos, for example.
As of today, 16 women have come out on record with allegations of sexual harassment against M.J. Akbar in the last three weeks. Akbar has now resigned as a minister in India’s foreign affairs ministry in order to pursue a criminal defamation case against one of the women, Priya Ramani. Before Akbar was a minister in this government, he was an editor of some of India’s best known newspapers like the Asian Age. The 16 women’s complaints pertain to their interactions with him when he was an editor. The Wire published one of the first on-record accounts of Akbar’s sexual harassment, written by senior journalist Ghazala Wahab. Akbar resigned five days later.
— M.J. Akbar (@mjakbar) October 17, 2018
The Editors Guild has demanded that Akbar withdraw his defamation case against Ramani. Twenty women employees of Asian Age asked Delhi’s Patiala house court, where Akbar had filed the defamation case, to consider their individual testimonies as part of the case too. Lounge, the weekly supplement of Mint that Ramani used to edit, has extended its support to her by keeping blank the space in the newspaper in place of her regular column. The blank space carried just the hashtag, #IAmWithPriya.
Media collectives like the Indian Women’s Press corps, SAWM, Press Club of India and the Press Association united against the minister. Moneylife Control’s Sucheta Dalal and journalist Harinder Baweja voluntarily offered to crowdfund for Ramani’s defence.
Union minister Smriti Irani, upon being questioned about Akbar, lauded the courage of the women who have spoken out about their instances of sexual harassment and said, “Do not judge those who are speaking out right now.” However, her ministerial colleague from the BJP, Pon Radhakrishnan said those who had started the MeToo movement had “perverted minds”.
In terms of long term and systemic changes, Maneka Gandhi, minister for women and child development, has been proactively taking up the issue. The Centre has set up a group of ministers headed by home minister Rajnath Singh to strengthen the legal and institutional frameworks to deal with and prevent sexual harassment. The home ministry will also put a mechanism in place to track the status of all complaints filed. Maneka Gandhi stated that there should be a zero tolerance policy for sexual harassment cases at work. The ministry also announced that it would set up a committee of senior judicial and legal persons as members to examine the institutional and legal framework of sexual harassment complaints. They also said that victims of child sexual abuse would be able to file complaints at any time irrespective of their present age. In addition to asking all media organisations to establish an Internal Complaints Committees, the minister also requested all national and state political parties to constitute an ICC under the Sexual Harassment at Work Act 2013.
I have requested the Presidents/In-charge of all recognised National and State political parties to constitute the Internal Complaints Committee (ICC) as mandated under the #SexualHarassmentAtWork Act 2013.
— Maneka Gandhi (@Manekagandhibjp) October 18, 2018
The National Commission for Women set up an email address to receive complaints related to sexual harassment at workplaces. It has also set up an electronic complaint box; once a complaint is submitted to ‘She-box’ it is forwarded to the relevant authority. Maneka Gandhi has asked the NCW to take every #MeToo complaint from workplaces for expeditious disposal as and when complainants approach them.
The Delhi Commission for Women (DCW) chief Swati Maliwal wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi urging him to set up an investigation committee at the earliest to initiate probes against the people who have been accused of sexual misconduct. The DCW also set up a separate email id and a helpline service for lodging the complaints under the #MeToo movement.
Apart from the specific case of M.J. Akbar, political figures across the board have expressed their support for #MeToo in general.
RSS General Secretary Dattatreya Hosabale, shared a post by Facebook’s Public Policy Director in India, Ankhi Das, on #MeToo. He shared it and commented, “I liked it. She has articulated what I was feeling.”
Rahul Gandhi spoke out in support of #MeToo, saying women need to be treated with dignity and respect. Rahul Gandhi also accepted NSUI president Fairoz Khan’s resignation after sexual harassment charges surfaced against Khan. Congress politicians like Sachin Pilot, Salman Khurshid, Rajya Sabha MP Vivek Tankha, Kapil Sibal, Srinivas B.V. and Shashi Tharoor welcomed the long overdue moment of reckoning and stated their intention to stand in solidarity with the movement.
Union Minister Uma Bharti too said that she welcomed the campaign, which will bring about a “change in atmosphere at the workplace for women.” BJP MPs Meenakshi Lekhi and Poonam Mahajan have also made similar comments. Kiran Bedi extended her support to the movement after mentioning an incident of sexual harassment in Puducherry.
DMK MP Kanimozhi tweeted in solidarity with the movement and underscored the need to believe victims. After casting director Tess Joseph shared her #MeToo story of sexual harassment against Malayalam actor and CPI (M) MLA Mukesh Kumar, multiple groups and opposition parties protested demanding his resignation.
Film industry (North)
Tanushree Dutta came out with allegations of sexual harassment against Nana Patekar in September 2018 to Zoom TV. She had spoken about this earlier, in 2008 and 2013 but her testimony did not gather support. This time, the Indian media picked up her allegations, which were also corroborated publicly by others in the industry such as Janice Sequeira. Many started calling this India’s Weinstein-moment.
Dutta accused Patekar of sexual harassment on the sets of the 2008 film Horn Ok Pleassss. She also accused director Vivek Agnihotri of harassment and passing lewd comments.
The chief of the Maharashtra State Commission for Women issued notices to Patekar, director Rakesh Sarang and choreographer Ganesh Acharya. The Oshiwara Police Station registered a complaint against Patekar, Acharya, Sarang and producer of the movie, Samee Sidhiqui. Patekar and others have also filed a complaint against Dutta.
The Women in Cinema Collective extended their unequivocal support to Tanushree for “coming out fearlessly about the harassment endured at workplace.” Cine and TV Artists Association (CINTAA) apologised for not filing Tanushree’s complaint in 2008. Protest groups from Hyderabad expressed solidarity with Dutta and against sexual harassment in the film industry. CINTAA, in a press conference, stated that they had sent a letter to Patekar and will offer full cooperation to the police investigation.
The next big name in Bollywood to be the subject of allegations was that of Alok Nath. He was accused of rape by writer-director-producer Vinta Nanda. She has since filed a police complaint against him. Actors Sandhya Mridul and Deepika Amin have also accused Nath of sexual harassment. The Screen Writers Association issued a statement in support of Nanda and promised a fair investigation. Nanda also wrote an open letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi urging him to intervene and provide justice to women. In Alok Nath’s defamation case against Vinta Nanda, the court allowed Nanda to speak freely on any platform.
The third big name to be accused of sexual harassment is director Sajid Khan. Multiple women, including journalist Karishma Upadhyay and actors Rachel White and Simran Suri, came forward to accuse him. The Indian Film and Director’s Association issued a showcause notice to Khan asking for his response to these allegations. His sister, Farah Khan, has extended support to the women who have spoken against him. Actor Dia Mirza has expressed solidarity with the woman who accused Sajid Khan of sexual harassment.
The movie Houseful 4 has been suspended. This is after Patekar stepped down from the movie, Khan stepped down as director of Houseful 4 and Akshay Kumar suspended its shooting due to allegations against Khan and Patekar.
The fourth big name in Bollywood to be accused of sexual harassment is director Vikas Bahl. A Huffington Post investigation uncovered how a woman was harassed by Bahl on the sets of the hit movie Queen. The lead actress in the film, Kangana Ranaut, came out in support of the survivor and spoke about how she too had experienced inappropriate behaviour from Bahl. Anurag Kashyap, Vikramaditya Motwane and Madhu Mantena dissolved Phantom Films, which Bahl was a co-founder in. Bahl was dropped as director of an Amazon Prime show. Hrithik Roshan asked producers of a movie being directed by Bahl to take action against him. Award-winning director Hansal Mehta also criticised Vikas Bahl, asking, “Will the industry protect him like it always does?”
Others in Bollywood accused of sexual harassment have also faced consequences. Mumbai Academy of Moving Image (MAMI) dropped actor Rajat Kapoor’s film after sexual harassment allegations. Kapoor issued an apology.
However, director Shazia Iqbal, whose film, Bebaak, was dropped by MAMI because Anurag Kashyap was one of its producers, has attacked the academy for turning her into ‘collateral damage’. “As a survivor of child abuse, several sexual assaults and harassment at workplace, I find it really odd, discomforting, unfair and traumatizing to be at the receiving end of the most powerful feminist moment of our times,” she wrote. “This isn’t justice. This is irrational, illogical, unjustifiable penance. How is this not harassment? Sorry MAMI board members, you missed standing by the #MeToo movement by a mile.”
The business head of Yash Raj Films, Ashish Patil has been sent on administrative leave. Fox Star Studios suspended director Mukesh Chhabra from its production Kizie aur Manny. Film critic, Shibaji Roychoudhury’s contract was terminated by Times Now after four women came forward with complaints about him. Producers of the movie Balekempa, Zoo Entertainment, withdrew the movie from all film festivals after harassment allegations surfaced against director, Ere Gowda.
Amitabh Bachchan who initially refused to lend support to Tanushree Datta, finally came out with a statement in support of victims in general: “No woman should ever be subjected to any kind of misbehaviour, or disorderly conduct.” Aamir Khan and Kiran Rao released a statement against an unnamed colleague and stated that they will not work with him or any accused henceforth. According to reports, they were referring to director Subhash Kapoor who was in line to direct a movie with their production house. Bhushan Kumar and Ekta Kapoor have also sacked Subhash Kapoor from their projects.
Bollywood actors Emraan Hashmi, Radhika Apte, Farhan Akhtar, Priyanka Chopra, Ajay Devgan,Swara Bhaskar, Richa Chadha, Konkana Sen Sharma, Kalki Koechlin,Twinkle Khanna, Ayushman Khurrana , Malaika Arora , Sonam Kapoor, Arjun Kapoor, Parineeti Chopra, Ranveer Singh, Deepika Padukone, Tisca Chopra, Gulshan Devaiah, Jim Sarbh, Ronnie Screwala among several others and author Shobhaa De came out in support of the movement. Star TV Network has also come out in support of the movement. Eleven Bollywood women directors, including Konkana Sen Sharma, Nandita Das, Gauri Shinde, Shonali Bose, Kiran Rao and Zoya Akhtar said they would not work with proven offenders.
— Star TV Network (@starindia) October 9, 2018
CINTAA and Producer’s Guild of India agreed to form a special committee to look into sexual harassment cases in the industry. CINTAA announced two committees to tackle sexual harassment, with actors Raveena Tandon and Renuka Shahane and filmmaker Amole Gupte to be part of a complaints redressal committee, while actor Swara Bhasker will set up a sub-committee to increase awareness on film sets. Producer’s Guild asked its members to sign declaration to implement POSH guidelines. Recently, CINTAA announced its plan to address sexual harassment in film industry.
Film Industry (South)
Actor Mohanlal, the head of the Association of Malayalam Movie Artists (AMMA), accepted the resignation of actor Dileep, who is accused of plotting an actress’s abduction and assault in 2017. Dileep’s case had triggered a huge controversy in Kerala over the last year. Kerala’s ‘Women in Cinema Collective’ said that the AMMA has been “supporting” the accused. Many prominent women resigned from AMMA owing to the body’s support to Dileep. The WCC also filed a writ petition with the Kerala high court demanding the formation of an internal complaints committee in line with the 2013 law against sexual harassment at the workplace.
The Telugu film industry released contact details for women to report their complaints even anonymously. The industry also formed ‘Voice for Women’, a support group for women in the industry aimed at increasing awareness as well as to stand in solidarity with survivors. The Telugu Film Chamber has made it mandatory for all production houses to have an internal complaints committee.
The Film Industry for Rights and Equity (FIRE) in Karnataka, an independent body constituted by actors, directors and technicians, who have been vocal about the need to address sexual harassment of women in the industry, has appealed to the Karnataka Film Chamber of Commerce (KFCC) to refer all sexual harassment complaints they receive to FIRE’s Internal Complaints Committee.
Tamil actor Vishal, who is also president of the Nadigar Sangam and the Tamil Film Producers Council, has announced that a three member probe committee will be set up to look into sexual harassment allegations.
The South Indian Film Women’s Association held a press conference and expressed support to singers Chinmayi Sripaada and Leena Manimekalai. Sripada and other women have come out with allegations of sexual harassment against lyricist Vairamuthu. Manimekalai has alleged sexual harassment against Tamil film director Susi Ganesan. The women’s association said they have formed an internal grievance redressal cell for the industry.
Founder of comedy group All India Bakchod Tanmay Bhatt was accused of deliberately ignoring these allegations and continuing to work with Chakraborty. Allegations of sexual harassment were also made against AIB’s Gursimran Khamba. AIB subsequently issued a statement saying that Bhatt had “stepped away” from the organisation, Khamba was on leave of absence and that the future of AIB was in question.
Hotstar cancelled AIB’s new show and removed old episodes of ‘Better Life Foundation’ which starred Utsav Chakraborty in it. In a statement, Hotsar said they “will not stand by anything that compromises the respect or safety of women.” Mumbai Academy of Moving Image (MAMI) has dropped one of AIB’s films from their film festival.
Comedienne Aditi Mittal also issued a statement of apology after being accused of on-stage sexual harassment by actress and comedienne Kaneez Surka.
Chintan Ruparel, co-founder of the short film company Terribly Tiny Tales has stepped down after multiple complaints of sexual harassment were made against him.
Singer Kailash Kher issued an apology after photographer Natasha Hemrajani and singer Sona Mohapatra accused him of sexual harassment. Filmmaker Ashok Pandit tweeted to Kailash Kher not to threaten victims of sexual harassment. Kher has been dropped from a Diwali event by Udaipur’s mayor who said, “Since his name has appeared in the Me Too campaign, it’s our moral responsibility to not invite him.”
Sony Entertainment television asked Anu Malik to step down as Indian Idol judge amid various allegations.
Supporting #MeToo, A.R. Rahman promised to create a safe environment for everyone at his workplace. The Madras Music Academy dropped seven musicians accused of sexual harassment (N. Ravikiran, O.S. Thyagarajan, Mannargudi A.Easwaran, Srimushnam V. Raja Rao, Nagai Sriram, R. Ramesh and Thiruvarur Vaidyanathan.) They also expressed solidarity with the movement (Their secretary Pappu Venugopala Rao resigned last year after his name featured on an anonymous list put out by Raya Sarkar). Chennai’s ‘Federation of City Sabhas’ have also got together and set up an internal committee to probe sexual harassment complaints.
Ravikiran and the others have denied the charges. Singer Raghu Dixit issued an apology after being accused of sexual harassment on Twitter. Collectively, artists from the Carnatic music industry wrote an open letter against sexual harassment that was widely shared to show solidarity with survivors.
— A.R.Rahman (@arrahman) October 22, 2018
Video Volunteers founder Stalin K. Padma has stepped down after several women came forward alleging sexual harassment by him. The School of Media and Culture Studies at the Tata Institute of Social Sciences has decided to cut its associations with Video Volunteers. Teach for India sent three of its staff on leave for a pending investigation after sexual harassment claims against them. Their CEO called it “a wakeup call”. People’s Watch director Mathew Jacob resigned after allegations of sexual misconduct were levelled against him.
Women’s rights NGO Saheli issued a press release detailing how feminist groups and individuals across the country are extending support to #MeToo. Deepika Padukone’s Live Love Laugh Foundation released a statement announcing that one of its trustees, Anirban Das Blah, had resigned following allegations of sexual harassment, and their support for survivors. A collective of over 300 NGOs intends to start a ‘Dignity March’ to take #MeToo to rural areas.‘Mahila Bol’, a nationwide initiative to address issues of sexual harassment at workplace, extended support to #MeToo survivors.
Renowned painter Jatin Das was accused by four women of making unwelcome advances. In a statement, he said he was “deeply anguished by the recent allegations made against me. The first thing I want to say is that everyone has the right to speak out. Having said that I want to categorically state that I have never forced myself or been abusive towards any woman… However, I do want to say at this point that if any woman has experienced any kind of discomfort because of me, I sincerely apologise. It was never my intention.”
Photographer Pablo Bartholomew, the subject of an anonymous allegation, has been disinvited by Festival Photo Kathmandu. Bartholomew said, “With no other context, timeline and explanation beyond the account of the anonymous person’s story, it makes it quite worrisome that anyone can name and be anonymous, with lack of answerability or fact. With no facts presented, I am at loss to address or respond to the stated accusation.” Photoink, a gallery that represented Bartholomew, has set up an internal committee on the allegations.
Artist and Kochi-Muziris Biennale co-founder Riyas Komu apologised for his sexual misconduct, stating his support for the movement.
Mumbai art gallery Tarq closed photographer Shahid Datawala’s show after he was accused of sexual misconduct.
A group started by writer and editor Rajni George petitioned the Jaipur Literature Festival to support #MeToo. In their response, the JLF organisers said they ‘stand by women’ and that no writer or public personality named so far as a sexual offender has been invited to the forthcoming edition of JLF. Over 1,000 people signed the petition including Gurucharan Das, Nilanjana S.Roy and Wendy Doniger.
Writer Sachin Garg has apologised to women who accused him of sexual misconduct in the past.
Subodh Sankar, co-founder of the Atta Galatta bookstore, which is a partner on the Bangalore Literature festival, says that the festival would “not provide a platform to, and thus legitimise, any person credibly accused of sexual misconduct of any kind”.
At the inaugural address of the JCB prize for Literature, Rana Dasgupta, director of JCB prize expressed, his support to the MeToo movement
In the legal sphere, plenty of lawyers and judges have come out in support of #MeToo, like Supreme Court judge (retd) Sujatha Manohar, Bombay high court judge Justice Gautam Patel and High court judge (retd) Prabha Sridevan. Law student, Koshika Krishna, filed a petition with the Ministry of Women and Child Development instructing companies to declare information about their anti-sexual harassment cell members on their website. A group of lawyers is set to draft an Opensource Sexual Harassment Policy for Workplaces that is free to use without license. The Alternative Law Forum is offering legal support to survivors. Senior advocate Indira Jaising said she will stop representing Talib Hussain, an activist on the Kathua rape of a minor girl, who has himself now been accused of rape, An informal network of lawyers has also volunteered to give legal counsel to victims who are now coming out.
Corporate and advertising
The impact of #MeToo has also been seen in the corporate and advertising world with several resignations and investigations underway.
Global mentorship platform, World Woman Foundation, has cancelled its ties with Suhel Seth after a number of women came on record with allegations of sexual harassment against him. The Tata group, Coca Cola and the Mahindra Group have terminated their relation with him.
Happy mcgarrybowen CEO Kartik Iyer, managing director Praveen Das, senior creative director of Happy Creative Services Bodhisatwa Dasgupta and national creative director of iProspect India Dinesh Swamy have stepped down following allegations of sexual harassment and misconduct. Dentsu Aegies, the parent company, issued a statement on their official twitter handle confirming the resignation of all four from their respective positions and extending support to women who spoke up. Dentsu Webchutney, part of the Dentsu aegis, has also cancelled all relations with Omkar Sen after investigations began into his alleged sexual misconduct with women colleagues.
Mudra Institute of Communications Ahmedabad (MICA) has set up a special committee to “suo motu and proactively” take cognisance of allegations made against the director of crafting creative communication Praveen Mishra.
DDB Mudra group has issued a statement on their official twitter handle over allegations made against employees at 22feet Tribal Worldwide, saying they have zero tolerance towards “inappropriate behaviuor or harassment at the workplace.” They are also looking into allegations made against three of their employees including chief creative technologist Brijesh Jacob, chief executive officer Deepak Nair and senior photographer Aniruddha Das.
Publicis India has sacked its creative director Ishrath Nawaz who was accused of sexual misconduct. The statement from Publicis India’s twitter handle confirmed the termination of Nawaz’s services after investigation. Co-founder of Utopeia Communicationz, Sudarshan Banerjee was sent on leave after four women accused him of sexual misconduct.
Women in media, advertising and design have written an open letter, calling for a wide network of women with a “singular focus on addressing sexual harassment across the industry.” The letter was signed by J Walter Thompson’s Tista Sen, Ogilvy West’s Kainaz Karmkar and several other influential women in the world of advertising, PR and media.
TATA motors has also sent its corporation head Suresh Rangarajan on leave to conduct an inquiry into allegations of sexual harassment made against him. Likewise, KWAN Talent Management Agency Pvt. Ltd. has asked Anirban Das Blah to step aside from all his duties. Ajit Thakur, head of content studio of Entertainment and Media business of Reliance Industries has resigned. Impressario entertainment has set up a women-only inquiry committee to investigate allegations made against its event manager Vibhu Sharma.
Popular restaurant Sly Granny released a statement supporting victims, in reply to tweets about harassment. M.N. eye hospital in Chennai came forward in support of #MeToo. Pepsico India has rolled out an anti-harassment training module and 24X7 helpline number to deal with issues of sexual harassment at workplace. ITC has set up an internal complaint committee in all its units across the country. Godrej has extended support to #MeToo.
Although #MeToo has not yet made a big dent in the world of sports, tennis star Mahesh Bhupati has come out in support of the movement. BCCI CEO Rahul Johri has been accused of sexual harassment and the Committee of Administrators has sought an explanation from him and the ICC has requested the BCCI not to send him for meetings after the allegations. He is now on leave.
In response to the ever-growing list of #MeToo allegations, educational institutions have been pushed to institute new measures for safety.
Symbiosis Law School, Hyderabad, suspended their professor Srinivas Methuku, after 8 women complained of sexual harassment to the institute.
A top academic at IISC, Bengaluru is set to quit after allegations made against him by a female PhD student. A B.Sc student returned to her college (Tiruvannamalai Agriculture College) after the college administration suspended the professor who sexually harassed her. A student of Ashoka University started a petition asking the university to stop defending a professor accused of sexual harassment. Symbiosis International University (SIU) has decided to send Anupam Siddhartha, director of the Symbiosis Centre for Media and Communication, on leave pending inquiry. Pune’s Symbiosis media college is inviting students and alumni for discussions on sexual harassment in campus, a phenomenon that is gaining ground in several colleges around the country.
The Jammu Kashmir Directorate of school education is constituting a district level sexual harassment committee.
The Hyderabad high court told the Telangana government to list out steps taken to prevent child sexual abuse in schools. Many high school and college model UNs are becoming stricter about safety, like JMC MUN that rescinded its association with people who have been accused of sexual harassment and they have set up an enquiry committee.
Civil society initiatives
A slew of efforts from civil societies are being launched on a smaller scale. Activist group “I Will Go Out” has released a support and resource list for victims and survivors.
Events are being organised pan-India to deal with the aftermath collectively, such as a talk organised by Agents of Ishq with Bishakha Dutta on understanding consent, obscenity and morality. The Oxford bookstore in Delhi organised a talk on #MeToo and the culture of impunity.
Feminist organisation Sheroes has started a helpline to listen to survivors’s stories. TheLifeofScience.com is circulating a Google form for the Indian scientific community to responsibly collect, record and report sexual harassment in Indian science.
Collectives have also issued statements in support of the movement. A Dalit women’s collective ‘Dalit Woman Fight’ has issued a statement in support of #MeToo. The Kashmir’s Women’s Collective compiled a list of testimonies of sexual harassment. A group of young survivors and activists started the #MeTooK12 hashtag to include an even younger generation in the conversation around sexual assault.
Meghalaya Congregation of Christian Brothers in India, affiliated to the Catholic church said that it would initiate an investigation into charges of sexual abuse against one of its members.
Below is a list of significant op-eds, editorials and interviews that have appeared in various publications over the last three weeks on the issues raised by the #MeToo movement, including a few critical perspectives.
‘Indeed Lies Do Not Have Legs’: Ghazala Wahab Replies to M.J. Akbar by Ghazala Wahab
In refuting my story of molestation and harassment, Akbar has tried to hide inside his supposedly “very tiny cubicle, patched together by plywood and glass”. Either he is lying, or age has caught up with him.
‘Citing Women’s Bodies as Locus of Honour Is Reason for Violence’: Justice Sridevan
Justice (Retd.) Prabha Sridevan weighs in on the relevance of legal recourse in #MeToo cases.
#MeToo Memories and Our Citadels of Power by Farah Naqvi
This moment has no leaders. But it runs with a million racing heartbeats.
Why Sexual Assault Is Among the Most Traumatic Experiences Women Can Face by Prachi Yadav
Sexual violence is a personal account and every victim’s experience is different. But what is common to all those who have experienced such violence is that it is a debilitating experience and affects every aspect of one’s life.
Why I Refuse to Substitute Moralistic Outrage for Demands for Justice by Devika J.
I am sure most of us are part of some forms of privilege and are all waiting for #MeToo campaigns that will humanise us all.
Due Process Has Failed – and That Means We Need to Make It Stronger by Nizam Pasha
#MeToo is a symptom of the problem, not the cure.
Backstory: #MeToo Is About an Individual’s Rights but Is Far Larger Than a Single Person by Pamela Philipose
Column from The Wire’s public editor
Editorial: The Indian Media’s Moment of Reckoning
Even if India’s sexual harassment law at the workplace envisages a time limit for the filing of complaints, media organisations must waive those limits.
A Dalit woman’s thoughts on #MeTooIndia by Mimi Mondal
We Dalits, and especially Dalit women, are not accustomed to receiving that kind of belief from Savarna social systems, or even our own Savarna friends.
Why MeToo must be impolite by Karla Bookman
We need something loud, destructive, and unwieldy to move the needle
No easy endings by Pamela Philipose
Everyone enthused by the MeToo movement must watch out for the blowback. It will come
Missing from India’s #MeToo movement – the men by Rimjhim Jain
This deafening silence from the men will ensure that their dominant status in workplaces and their power and privilege will go unexamined.
The Revolution before #MeToo by Seema Mustafa
Let’s remember the time when asserting women’s rights did not devolve into seeking mob justice on social media.
The Judiciary’s #MeToo moment by Gautam Bhatia
It is an opportunity to ensure that the defamation law is no longer used as a tool for harassment
Journalism after #MeToo by Ananth Krishnan and Meera Srinivasan
The Indian newsroom must be made safe and equal for women — or it will lose all credibility.
#MeToo: Not without her consent by Veena Venugopal
The #MeToo outpouring demands a new, fair system that delivers brisk justice
Editorial: #UsToo — on India’s #MeToo moment|
The movement to make workplaces safe for women must involve us all
The Times of India
Editorial: #MeToo’s future: It must discourage anonymity and frivolity to achieve its fundamental aims
The existence of unfair workplaces and the market for rumours, smears and fake news demands improved institutional and policing processes so that justice is swift and facts quickly come to the fore.
Meet the Women Worried About #MeToo
The #MeToo movement has generated a great deal of debate across the world. Women from all walks of life have opened about their horiffic experiences of harassment. Some of the #MeToo debates, which are now taking place in India, have already been initiated in other parts of the world where the movement first gathered steam.
‘All the caveats about #MeToo movement may be valid but none of them are valid if the purpose is to belittle its significance’ | Indu Agnihotri interview to Renuka Bisht
The #MeToo movement has exposed sexual harassment as pervasive in India’s formal working spaces but also started making them answerable for providing women with safety and redressal.
Editorial: The costs of sexual harassment in the workplace
It is not just an affront to justice and human dignity, it also does economic harm to women and to the country
How the #MeToo movement has changed the equation by Salil Tripathi
The cost of being accused of sexual harassment has been low for men and the cost of complaining has been high for women. The #MeToo movement changes that equation, but only just
How #MeToo has enriched Indian vocabulary by Anindita Ghose
Beyond the hashtag, the movement has given women in the country a language to speak out
#MeToo | Men Should Realise No Means No by Arshia Dhar and Siddhartha Mishra
As industry after industry says #MeToo to guilt and complicity, it’s time organisations refuse consent to the predatory culture
#MeToo: The Akbar Who Became Birbal by KP Nayar
An ex-colleague on the editor-politician felled by the #MeToo storm.
Me the People by Madhavankutty Pillai
From film sets to newsrooms, a new moral order emerges on gender relations
The Decline of Man by Lhendup G Bhutia
What lies ahead for the male of the species in the age of MeToo
India Today Magazine
MeToo, The Uprising by Nisha Susan
All week, as woman after woman put forth extremely credible allegations of assault and harassment, they were met often with wonderment and doubts.
India Today TV
The News Minute
‘Me Too’ is important. Period by Hannah Dhanaraj
Women, across castes and classes, are marginalised, even if the degree varies.
The Cost of Speaking Out: Workplace Harassment is also a Financial Burden for Women by Lavanya
Lowered incomes, bad work appraisals, legal expenses and therapy costs are just a few financial burdens faced by women who face workplace harassment. Mohan
The myth of ‘safe’ spaces and ‘woke’ men: What we can learn from the Me Too movement by Geetika Mantri
The latest wave in the movement has seen women out several men from seemingly liberal spaces, and we must learn to separate the space from the discourse it preaches.
My wife faces a union minister, his 97 lawyers. It takes special courage to do that by Samar Harlankar
The consequences of sexual harassment have fallen entirely on India’s women. The men must step up or step aside.
#MeToo and defamation: How the criminal justice system is being used to silence women by Veena Gowda and Vijay Hiremath
The system that discouraged women from taking legal action against their harassers is now suppressing them more.
‘Indignant’, ‘progressive’, ‘wounded’: How men have responded to allegations of sexual harassment by Ipsita Chakravarty
Some stared down their accusers, others attempted to explain it was a miscommunication between the sexes.
Tarun Tejpal’s gaming of legal system shows why #MeToo doesn’t believe in due process by Shivam Vij
Five years after Tejpal was booked, he manages to keep stalling the case. No wonder women are disillusioned with the due process.
How India’s #MeToo campaign is different from the trailblazer in the US by Bhuma Shrivastava, Ari Altstedter and Archana Chaudhary
America was more focused on workplace harassment. India’s #MeToo campaign has taken on a more diffuse character.
Note: The Hindu has clarified that the woman who accused Gouridasan Nair of harassment did not work with him at the newspaper.