Almost a year to the day after the MeToo movement upended Hollywood, it has arrived in the world’s biggest film industry, Bollywood, and is spreading through India.
In the past few weeks, a decade-old sexual misconduct allegation against a popular male movie star in the Hindi film industry has been reported to police and a production house that partnered with Netflix on its first local hit has been dissolved amid allegations against a founder.
The chief executive of a pioneering comedy troupe has also resigned after it admitted that he failed to take action when an employee was accused of sending lewd photographs to women.
Twitter is being flooded with allegations of inappropriate behavior by prominent men in India.
The outpouring comes as the country grapples with a mass exodus of women from the workforce for a variety of reasons: Nearly 20 million women dropped out of the labor market from 2004 to 2005 and from 2011 to 2012, according to a World Bank report.
“The whole culture of silence and shame has existed not just in Bollywood, but in Indian society as a whole,” said actor Tanushree Dutta, who alleged last month that she was sexually harassed on a movie set in 2008. “I was just speaking the same truths that I have been speaking for the last 10 years. Ten years ago there weren’t any takers.”
Dutta has said that she was allegedly sexually harassed by actor Nana Patekar on a movie set, where her complaints were ignored.
The actor has spoken publicly about the incident before. Yet, in the wake of the MeToo movement, her interview set off a Twitter storm of support and criticism, as well as accusations against other actors, directors, comedians and editors.
Patekar has denied the allegation, according to newspaper reports, and said that he made the same denial 10 years ago.
He canceled a news conference on the issue, and said in a televised statement that he had been advised against speaking to the media.
His lawyer has sent a legal notice to Dutta asking her to apologize or face further action, Reuters reported.
Meanwhile, a partner at Phantom Films, which produced the Sacred Games series for Netflix, announced that the company was being dissolved after the Huffington Post sought a response to allegations against Vikas Bahl, another partner.
Bahl is said to have allegedly sexually assaulted a crew member in her hotel room in 2015.
When asked what the dissolution would mean for the second season of Sacred Games, a Netflix spokeswoman said by e-mail: “We are evaluating options on the path forward.”
Bahl denied the allegation when it was previously reported last year by the Mumbai Mirror.
The newspaper yesterday reported that Bahl had sent legal notices to two Phantom Films partners accusing them of orchestrating a campaign against him.
He did not respond to a text message seeking comment.
In a few short weeks, MeToo has spread from the entertainment to the news business.
A number of women journalists wrote to media conglomerate Bennett Coleman & Co — which publishes the country’s largest English newspaper, the Times of India — asking that action be taken against K.R. Sreenivas, an editor overseeing one of the newspaper’s editions in southern India.
They accused him of sending lewd texts, inappropriately touching colleagues and obstructing their careers if they resisted.
“We have taken cognizance of the matter and asked the respondent to proceed on leave of absence to ensure a free and fair inquiry,” conglomerate chief executive Raj Jain said in an e-mailed response to questions. “A high-level, independent committee has been set up to look into the matter.”
Sreenivas told the publication Firstpost that he would cooperate with the probe. He did not respond to a text message seeking further comment.
India has long grappled with the issue of women’s safety, especially since the 2012 gang rape and murder of a young woman in New Delhi sparked a public outcry.
Women afraid for their own and their children’s safety often leave the workforce or take lower-paying jobs, Bloomberg reported earlier this year.
This comes at a cost to Asia’s third-largest economy, which could boost its GDP by 27 percent if female labor force participation levels were equal to those of men, IMF managing director Christine Lagarde has said.
Far from making strides in that direction, the share of women who work in India shrank to about 24 percent from 2015 to 2016, a decline of 36 percent from a decade earlier, a government report showed.
Among the group of accusers who approached the Times of India was Bangalore-based journalist Sandhya Menon, who has since been inundated with more than 100 messages from women across industries wanting to identify their harassers yet stay anonymous.
Most of these messages — which Menon is posting on Twitter without disclosing the accusers’ names — are about harassment in the workplace, she said.
“The last year after MeToo has made it safer to speak up,” Menon said. “It’s not just about being harassed socially. This is about workplace harassment. Men in positions of power are affecting women’s livelihoods and career trajectories.”
An Australian university student who has never visited China and has only a modest social media following would seem an unlikely target for the Chinese government. However, when a Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman personally denounced Drew Pavlou at a news conference, it was just the next phase in an extraordinary campaign against the 21-year-old that has fueled concerns over China’s targeting of critics overseas. Pavlou first placed himself in the superpower’s sights when in July last year he organized a small sit-in at the University of Queensland, where he studies, to protest against various Chinese government policies. Since then, the Global
‘ASKED TO MOVE OUT’: Indonesian coast guard personnel argued with a Chinese vessel over territorial claims after it entered the country’s exclusive economic zone An Indonesian patrol ship confronted a Chinese coast guard vessel that spent almost three days in waters where Indonesia claims economic rights and that are near the southernmost part of China’s disputed claims to the South China Sea. The Indonesian Maritime Security Agency on Friday night detected Chinese ship 5204 entering Indonesia’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ) in what Indonesia calls the North Natuna Sea. The agency sent a patrol ship that closed within 1km of the Chinese coast guard vessel and they communicated to affirm their position and their nation’s claims to the area, Indonesian Maritime Security Agency head Aan Kurnia said. “We
BEFORE WINTER COMES: Snow cuts off roads into Ladakh for four months or more each year, so the crunch is on to get food, tents and high-altitude equipment to Leh From deploying mules to large transport aircraft, the Indian military has activated its entire logistics network to transport supplies to thousands of troops for a harsh winter along a bitterly disputed Himalayan border with China. In the past few months, one of India’s biggest military logistics exercises in years has brought vast quantities of ammunition, equipment, fuel, winter supplies and food into Ladakh, a region bordering Tibet that India administers as a union territory, officials said. The move was triggered by a border standoff with China in the snow deserts of Ladakh that began in May and escalated in June into hand-to-hand
Since her personal telephone number was posted online, Hong Kong democracy advocate and Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions chairperson Carol Ng has received menacing calls from strangers and been bombarded with messages calling her a “cockroach.” She is not alone. A sophisticated and shady Web site called HK Leaks has ramped up its “doxxing” — where people’s personal details are published online — of Hong Kong democracy advocates, targeting those it says have broken Hong Kong’s National Security Law. Promoted by groups linked to the Chinese Chinese Communist Party and hosted on Russia-based servers, HK Leaks has become the most prominent “doxxing”