Taking cognizance of the slew of harassment allegations against male journalists, the Editors Guild of India on Tuesday, 9 October condemned the ‘predatory behaviour by such men’.
In a statement, the Guild said, “Its worse when the perpetrators also happen to be enjoying senior or supervisory positions in the profession.”
The Guild is committed to ensuring that the legal rights of either the victims or the accused are not violated. A fair, just and safe working environment is essential if press freedoms are to flourish. The newsroom in our profession is a relatively informal, free-spirited and hallowed space. It must be protected.Editors Guild Statement
Extending support to all women journalists, the Guild also called upon the media organisations to hold unbiased inquiries into all reported cases.
A recent spate of tweets calling out alleged sexual harassers and predators has taken the Internet by a storm. What started with Bollywood actor Tanushree Dutta recounting an incident in which Nana Patekar had allegedly assaulted her and a thread of tweets calling out Bangalore comic Utsav for sending d**k pics to women, has now developed into a full fledged campaign, that has also taken the Indian media into its folds.
Various journalists have been named in tweets and posts for alleged sexual harassment.
In 2017, a female journalist had written, for the Vogue India, about her ordeal with a specific boss who had decided to conduct her job interview in a hotel room at 7 pm.
The bed, a scary interview accompaniment, was already turned down for the night. Come sit here, you said at one point, gesturing to a tiny space near you. I’m fine, I replied with a strained smile. I escaped that night, you hired me, I worked for you for many months even though I swore I would never be in a room alone with you again…All these years later the world has changed but your species is just the same. You still think it’s your right to take your pick of the bright professional young women who enter YOUR workspace. You whip out your tired tricks for a new batch of women every year. “Watch me shower.” “Can I give you a massage?” “A shoulder rub?” “I’m ready for my blow job now.” “Are you married?”
In a tweet on Monday, the journalist revealed that “the boss” in fact is the present Minister of State (MOS) for External Affairs MJ Akbar. She also said that “lots of women have worse stories about this predator.”
A resident editor at The Times of India, KR Sreenivas, had allegedly harassed a journalist when she used to work with him at the Bangalore Mirror.
The journalist alleged, on Twitter, that one day, late at night, Sreenivas had offered to drop a few of them home from work. She was the last one to get dropped off since she lived furthest away. On reaching her hous, Sreenivas lay a hand on her thigh and said:
My wife and I have grown apart. She doesn’t understand me
The girl asked him to remove his hand and go up and left.
Subsequently, other women also shared that they were harassed by Sreenivas via inappropriate suggestions and lewd texts. In one instance, he had even suggested to a young intern that she should wear short skirts.
The same journalist who wrote about Sreenivas, also wrote about Gautam Adhikari – former editor in chief of DNA in Mumbai.
She recounted an incident in which Adhikari had allegedly asked her and another female collegue to show him around the city since he was new. That night ended with him forcefully kissing her.
Another journalist then alleged that Adhikhari had called her to his hotel room to discuss flexible hours and gone on force himself on her, as well.
The journalist who wrote about Sreenivas and Adhikari also shared that the associate editor at the Hindustan Times Delhi office, Manoj Ramachandran, allegedly texted her in 2005 to tell her that he wants to fuck her. She was working with him at the Hindustan Times then.
Mayank Jain is a former employee of Scroll.in and BloombergQuint. He has been described as a “sexual predator”by a female journalist, who said that for days she kept wondering “what kind of woman am I, that this man could approach me just like that…and tell me to fuck him?”
Following this, another journalist shared that Jain had asked her to rent a room with him.
It susequently emerged that Jain had apologised on Twitter in 2017 after sexual allegation were levelled against him.
A female journalist on Saturday, alleged that she had been “hit on” by author and a Hindustan Times‘ journalist Prashant Jha, even though she had repeatedly reminded Jha that he had a wife.
Following the allegations, Jha has reportedly stepped down as the Chief of Bureau and Political Editor of Hindustan Times. He has been stripped off his managerial responsibilities, but will remain a reporter.
One of the founding editors of The Wire, Sidharth Bhatia too faced allegations of sexual misconduct by two women, allegedly his fellow employees in DNA.
A female journalist, while replying to a tweet thread by Sandhya Menon, named Bhatia, calling him “Feminist Liberal Uncle”, and alleging that many women found their inboxes flooded with his “literary pleadings to bed” them. Another alleged former employee too replied on the thread, alleging similar behavior on Bhatia’s part.
Bhatia, however, has denied these allegations in a statement, while also stating that he did not know either of the women who had called him out.
A former student at the Asian College of Journalism (ACJ) and a Senior Coresspondent at The Quint, Meghnad Bose, has been accused of sexual misconduct and inappropriate behaviour by his journalism school batchmates.
Another batchmate alleged that Bose had ‘bullied and harassed women’ while a third batchmate accused Bose of being ‘inappropriate around her.’
In his apology, following the allegations, Megnad Bose wrote:
If any of you wish to discuss this further with me, please do. I want to atone for my misconduct, and be a better person than I have been to each one of you. Till then, my head hangs in shame and apology.
Uday Singh Rana
A News18 journalist Uday Singh Rana had allegedly tried to feel a woman up by putting his hands under her bedsheet. On being asked to stop, he did so briefly but subsequently went on to do it again. Finally when she him to stop the second time, he turned the other way and dozed off. The woman shared her ordeal with another female journalist, who tweeted about it.
In response, Rana tweeted:
This is simply not true. I never heard the word ‘No’. When I realised I was unintentionally touching, I apologised and got up to go to the balcony. I did not “turn and doze off” after that. I deny this categorically.
However, he also put out an apology saying that he will never forgive himself for that night.
Siddhant Mishra, another ACJ alumnus, former The Hindu employee and presently a journalist at Business Standard, Siddhant Mishra has also been accused on Twitter of sexual harassment.
The journalist “outing” him also said that she had been deliberating doing so for this long because she was scared of him and doesn’t know what he is capable of.
She also tweeted out a screenshot of a conversation she had had with a friend about him.
NWMI’s Statement on #MeToo in Media
The Network of Women in Media in India has put out a statement saying that they are in “absolute solidarity” with those who have shared their experience of sexual harassment within the Indian media.
We are extremely disturbed to read accounts where accused in multiple cases of harassment enjoy impunity and continue to work in newsrooms unchecked. We strongly condemn the rampant sexism and misogyny in Indian newsrooms that not only allows sexual harassment to go unchecked but also promotes a culture of silence, victim blaming and moral policing.
The NWMI has also raised eight demands including that all media organisations and journalism colleges ensure that the anti-sexual harassment policy and the constitution of the Internal Committee are widely circulated.
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