On Saturday, as a number of woman journalists spoke against their sexual harassers as part of the #MeToo movement, Singer Chinmayi Sripaada also shared her struggles. The popular singer described various instances of harassment since her childhood, and backlash she faced when she stood up against these harassers.
She began with an account that took place when she was 8 or 9 years old, when a priest-like man felt her up. The man touched her in her private parts when she was sleeping at her mother's workplace.
It is very, very tough for women to remember accounts of when they were touched inappropriately; a ‘harmless’ hug that looks OK but makes them alone cringe.— Chinmayi Sripaada (@Chinmayi) October 5, 2018
Chinmayi then talked about a "respected man" who pinched her thighs during a music concert in Chennai's December season, and men who touched her chest as an excuse to look into her shirt pocket. She said that she met with an accident on her two-wheeler trying to escape eve teasers.
She went on to talk about an incident with a "respected man" who hugged and felt her up when she was 19 years old. Even though she was with her mother, Chinmayi was called inside his office alone. The man used the opportunity to hug her and feel her up. She said, "I remember leaving one of my footwear behind, hurriedly saying ‘Bye Sir’ and running for my life, shaking all the while. Told my mom - she said this is some elder men’s way to test to see if you are ‘that type of a girl’. It was how ‘elders’ behaved in their wisdom, apparently."
Chinmayi also spoke of the online harassment she faced. The harassers threatened to "disrupt concerts/public events for over 3 years." She went ahead to file a case against the online abusers and received backlash with two women writers even saying, "A woman who sings Mayya Mayya cannot file a case on harassment." When some men spoke up for her, they were asked, "Are you sleeping with her?"
During the same time, a YouTuber named Prashanth told her, "Don't worry sweetheart/darling I will support you," to which Chinmayi responded, "Don't call me sweetheart." Prashanth, who is a popular movie reviewer, started to openly call her names after that, and he had many followers who believed him.
Chinmayi went on to post screenshots from two anonymous women of conversations in which Prashanth has sent them flirtatious messages.
I am having some messages shared and the names will be blocked out.— Chinmayi Sripaada (@Chinmayi) October 6, 2018
I can imagine how traumatic it can be. If you want to share your story anonymously please slide into my DMs.
Girl asks him how his wife is; he responds saying ‘you re my long time love, dont mistake me’ pic.twitter.com/iVu3vMeI2i
More from another girl. pic.twitter.com/eB1ok0M0WJ— Chinmayi Sripaada (@Chinmayi) October 6, 2018
Chinmayi's tweets came after many Twitter threads in which women have been opening up about their stories of sexual harassment. The movement began when a woman called out against Utsav Chakraborty, a comedian from the comedy group All India Bakchod.
Read Chinmayi's full Twitter thread here.