While the women have not yet registered police complaints, they have been using social media for the past few days to recount personal experiences of alleged harassment by Manik Katyal, the editor-in-chief of photography magazine Emaho, headquartered in Delhi. Most of the online complainants have worked as junior photographers or interns at the publication, and some of their allegations of sexual harassment date back to 2012 and 2013.
While most of the women claim to have experienced verbal harassment online or in person, some have also made allegations of physical abuse and coercion.
On November 7, a group of photographers also created a blog titled “I was harassed by Manik Katyal”, on which at least 20 women have posted personal “testimonials” in the form of write-ups, comments and screen shots of Facebook chats in which Katyal allegedly behaved in a lewd manner.
In response to the flood of allegations on social media, Katyal has now been asked to step down from his role as one of the three directors of Just Another Photo Festival, a photography festival that took place in Delhi in September. In a Facebook post on Monday, festival co-directors Poulomi Basu and CJ Clarke said, “Such allegations are a serious matter and this action will allow these allegations to be addressed and for the rule of law to be followed and any appropriate action taken. It is until such a time that Manik’s involvement will cease.”
According to claims in various posts on the blog, Katyal made a series of inappropriate comments to women, including asking them to give him oral sex and suggesting that he join them in the shower or in bed. A woman identifying herself as a “European photographer” claimed that he used “trashy and raw” language with her while making “sexual propositions” and “graphically describing sexual acts” during professional discussions.
A post by a former Emaho intern alleges that three years ago, Katyal abused his position as her boss by insisting she meet him for work at his hotel room, where he attempted to force himself on her:
“Even after I had let him know that I was not comfortable going to his place as I did not know him much, he insisted that I do so. Being a timid, young girl at that point, I did go. Did not want to offend him – I took him as someone superior to me in rank.
When I was in Manik’s room he offered me a drink. I did not want to drink, but he coerced me into drinking anyway. Then, without asking for my permission he started to get physical with me and chose to ignore the fact that I have said NO a several time… I managed to stop him after a while and left his place.”
Another post by an anonymous woman, who worked at Emaho in 2012, also describes a coercive physical encounter:
“…he knew I had moved to the same city as him so he kept messaging and calling under the pretext of work. So, I finally went to meet him after work. Being young, naive and alone in a new city, I was an easy target I guess. He offered me a drink. I said no. He coerced me into drinking saying “Don’t be a prude. Just relax!”…He made a pass at me and I told him I’m uncomfortable. I do not want to do this. I told him I have a boyfriend. This is not okay. I said I want to leave. He said have another drink and he’ll drop me home. It got really late and I knew I couldn’t go back to the PG which was pretty far away. I had never felt so alone and scared. It was quite traumatic… I was ashamed. I had bruises on my lips. I wish I could have done something then. All I ended up doing was blocking him on all my social media.”
A Thai photographer posted screen shots of online harassment she allegedly faced from Katyal: