BENGALURU: Women who have allegedly faced sexual harassment spoke of the difficulties they faced and various aspects of the #MeToo movement at the Bangalore Lit Fest here on Sunday.
The session, whose panelists included Sandhya Menon -- one of those who kick-started the #MeToo movement in India, had women sharing their personal sexual harassments experiences faced over the years.
Writer-producer of multiple TV shows, Vinta Nanda, who has accused actor Alok Nath of raping her in the 1990s, said she had spoken out about her experience over a decade ago, but it had been met by a stoic silence.
Nanda spoke about the difficulty of being forced to work with Nath in a TV series even after being harassed. “He (Nath) was misbehaving with me though I was the director, and I needed that job very badly.” Nath has denied the allegations, and his wife has filed a defamation case against Nanda.
Sandhya Menon narrated accounts of several other victims of sexual harassment via her Twitter handle @TheRestlessQuil, and also revealed her own experiences of harassment by multiple journalists. Menon said the first time she was harassed, when she was “a clueless 25-year-old,” led to a lot of confusion, rage, self-doubt and eventually discrimination at the workplace.
Stressing that allegations by women should be taken seriously, Sandhya said, “I received over 300 direct messages on Twitter. I asked every victim if they would back me in court if it came to that. Except one, all of them agreed.”
Sister Jesme -- formerly a nun who became a whistle-blower and wrote about sexual abuse, gender discrimination and corruption in the church, spoke about the backlash she faced after she made her revelations 10 years ago. “The problem for nuns is that there is no financial or societal support. But I had to write about my experience because I had been labelled ‘insane’, ‘harlot’, ‘Judas’, ‘fallen angel’ and such names,” she said.
Tushita Patel, a journalist and another panelist at the discussion, is among one of the women who have accused former Union minister M J Akbar of sexual harassment. Patel said she was spurred to reveal her own experience when she saw Akbar dismissing the allegations by other women against him. Akbar has filed a criminal defamation case against journalist Priya Ramani, who was the first person to name him.
Journalist Barkha Dutt, who anchored the discussion, termed the move “the biggest self-goal” by Akbar. She said the reason she had not revealed incidents of harassment during her assignments to cover war zones was that it would then affect chances of women being sent for such assignments.
We are to mentor youths, not hog their space: De
Bengaluru: Veteran author Shobhaa De who attended two back-to-back panel sessions at the 7th Bangalore Literature Festival, finished her session with a questionnaire round where she addressed posers exclusively from the audience. She also spoke around her recently released book – 'Seventy and to hell with it'. When asked about how ageism in the job sector is overshadowing veterans in India, she contradicted it saying, "We the elders are here to mentor the youths, not hog their space." According to her, if elders do not move out after a certain age in any career, it will not give scope for the youth to build their place. She also advised budding writers to enable their skills and highlight their talents. She asked the youth to indulge in reading books. "Reading habit polishes one's writing skills and no writer can build their career if they do not read."
We are to mentor youths, not hog their space: De Well-known Kannada poet and lyricist for songs Jayant Kaikini's book won the 'Atta Galatta - BLF book prize in the best fiction category. Kaikini, who also won the literary achievement award in Kannada award at the fest, won the prize for his book "No Presents Please," - a collection of short stories based in Mumbai. The book was translated from Kannada. At the acceptance speech, Kaikini compared awards to drinks that marathon runners accept during races, which couldn't be carried along.