#MeToo hits home: Journalists add to long list of sexual harassers in and outside newsrooms

Adding to an extremely long, disappointing and exhausting list of perpetrators of sexual harassment, after a woman accused Indian author, Chetan Bhagat, of harassment while sharing her conversation with him on social media and comedian Utsav Chatraborty was accused for nude pictures, many women have shared similar encounters of sexual harassment.

Following actor Tanushree Dutta’s coming out against actor Nana Patekar with accusations of harassment, the movement has spread across the media and journalism industry, with many women journalists coming out against harassers in and outside newsrooms.

K.R. Sreenivas, currently resident editor of the Times of India in Hyderabad, in 2008 was accused of harassing a woman that he worked with at the Bangalore Mirror.

Following the thread, a reporter from the The Wire, identified Mayank Jain, a reporter from Business Standard as a “sexual predator”.

Along with Jain, Anurag Verma, a former trends editor with Huffpost India was also accused of harassing women with inappropriate snapchats and requests to “send nudes.”

Another journalist came out against their colleague at Times Now who had then shifted to Arnab Goswami’s Republic TV. The abuser wasn’t named though.

In Kashmir too, women journalists have come out and spoken about abuse in and outside the newsroom, and the social ostracisation that followed.

Yesterday, a Kashmiri woman Journalist based in Delhi who has been frequenting Srinagar on assignments, came out against an unnamed assailant who she accused of forcibly tying to kiss her.

ALSO READ: Kashmiri Women Journalists: Calling it quits even before they start?

“My friend went to the washroom , taking advantage of that moment he threw himself upon me and tried to forcefully kiss me (he was not even a bottle down. He had not started drinking yet. It was a gathering). I pushed him back and said that I have always maintained that I don’t love him and there was no consent. At that time I was in a dilemma and didn’t know what to do about it,” she wrote on Facebook.

She added that many journalists in Kashmir did not support her and instead, isolated her “as if I cave committed a crime”.

Free Press Kashmir contacted the journalist and on her request, the post is not being shared here.

ALSO READ: Is harassment of women becoming a new normal in Srinagar?

In another instance, which had been shared on social media in the past years, two women came out against Journalist Fahad Shah, accusing him of sexually violating their consent.

On October 16, the #MeToo hashtag was used in over 1,00,000 tweets, in just a single day, while tens thousands of other posts on Facebook were following the same hashtag all over the world.

The idea of the hashtag is to share the personal stories of sexual harassment that women have been facing. With a very high number of women using the hashtag, the magnitude of the problem can be gauged, and it is alarming.

ALSO READ: Stalkers, texts and suggestive ‘courts’: Life of a female journalist in Kashmir

Started by Alyssa Milano, #MeToo has been trending online, providing women a platform to tell their stories of sexual harassment and assault.

The phrase had been used more than 2,00,000 times by October 15, and tweeted more than 5,00,000 times by October 16, resulting in more than 6 million discussions about sexual abuse and harassment.

Closer home, women have been sharing their disturbing experiences of sexual harassment at the hands of strange men, women, and those who they were related to. A huge number of tweets and posts speak of harassment by men who are members of the family or close to the family.

ALSO READ: #JournalismIsNotACrime: List of Journalists killed and attacked in Kashmir proves otherwise

Last year, in a series of tweets, the owner of a famous Bar ‘High Spirits’ in Pune was called out by hundreds of girls who claimed that the man had repeatedly harrassed and molested the girls frequenting his club, who, according to them, would grab them from behind, ‘pinch their bottoms’, and ‘rate them’.

For over a decade, The High Spirits Cafe has been one of Pune’s most popular hangouts, and a regular haunt for the city’s youth. However, its sheen started coming off when writer Sheena Dabholkar started tweeting about alleged incidents of harassment that she had both seen and been through at the bar over the years.

According to Dabholkar, women have to face everything from sexist comments to physical harassment at the hands of the owners and their friends.

As Dabholkar continued tweeting about her experiences, multiple others weighed in with similar incidents of harassment that they, or someone they knew, had been through there.

In an article published in the Guardian, #MeToo named the victims. Now, let’s list the perpetrators, the author writes, “At first I didn’t understand what made me so uncomfortable about #MeToo – after all, the more women sharing their stories and raising their voices, the better. And though we all know the statistics around sexual violence, it can be easy to think of these things in terms of numbers rather than people. So why not humanize the issue?”

“Then I realized: we’ve done this so many times before. Told our stories, raised our hands. Do we really need to bleed ourselves dry once again? How many times will we need to lay our traumas bare in the hope that this will finally be the time people care enough to do something about it?” she asked.

ALSO READ: Yes, Me Too: Much needed social campaign against sexual assault and harassment goes viral

Tamara Cofman Wittes, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, wrote:

She’s since been retweeting the replies. It’s an encouraging series of tweets, even if the only real-world consequences are that a few more people will be alert to signs of sexual harassment in their industries and social circles.

Veteran Bollywood actor Jeetendra has also been accused of sexual assault. The accusation came from Jeetendra’s cousin, who emailed the complaint to the Director General of Police of Himachal Pradesh as she stated that the incident allegedly took place in Shimla in January 1971.

At that time the actor was 28 years old and the complainant was 18. She said that the actor “arranged” for her to join him on a film shooting schedule in Shimla where he later assaulted her in an inebriated state.

ALSO READ: #MeToo campaign hits veteran actor Jeetendra as cousin alleges sexual assault by him

In a statement issued by the Jeetendra’s lawyer, Rizwan Siddiquee, the allegations were called “baseless and ridiculous”.

The statement read, “Foremost, my client specifically and categorically denies any such incident. Besides even otherwise such baseless, ridiculous and fabricated claims cannot be entertained by any court of law or the law enforcement agencies after a span of almost 50 years”.

Siddiquee went all out and said that the law did not give any person liberties to defame a public figure for hidden personal agendas.


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