Pakistani Bollywood actor Ali Zafar accused of sexual harassment by fellow singer-actress Meesha Shafi
Both Ali Zafar and Meesha Shafi have worked in Bollywood and are well-known in India.
She said that her decision to share her #MeToo story was difficult but she felt it was important to break the culture of silence.
Shafi, who belongs to a family of actors, dropped the bombshell on Twitter where she posted a lengthy statement.
She said: "I have been subjected more than once to sexual harassment of physical nature at the hands of a colleague from my industry Ali Zafar."
The actor-singer, who has produced a number of successful tracks and acted in high profile films such as Mira Nair's "Reluctant Fundamentalist" and Bollywood film "Bhaag Milkha Bhaag", said it has been a traumatic experience for her and her family. Referring to the 'Me Too' campaign, which became a rallying cry of women across the globe to share their experiences in the wake of Harvey Weinstein sexual harassment scandal in October 2017, Shafi said what concerned her the most was that she faced it despite being an "empowered" woman.
She said "these instances did not just happen when I was young or just entering the industry. This happened to me despite the fact that I am an empowered and accomplished woman who is known for speaking her mind."
"These happened to me as a mother of two children."
She further added. "It has been an extremely traumatic experience for me and my family. Ali is someone I have known for many years and someone who I have shared the stage with. I feel betrayed by his behaviour and attitude.
Sharing this because I believe that by speaking out about my own experience of sexual harassment, I will break the culture of silence that permeates through our society. It is not easy to speak out.. but it is harder to stay silent. My conscience will not allow it anymore #MeToo pic.twitter.com/iwex7e1NLZ
— Meesha Shafi (@itsmeeshashafi) April 19, 2018
Ali Zafar. who has starred in Bollywood movies like 'Mere Brother Ki Dulhan and Kill Dill and has also sung a number of tracks, is a popular face in India.
In his defense, Ali Zafar, too posted a long message emphasizing that he is father of a girl. He categorically denied all the claims of harassment lodged by Shafi.
He said: “I am deeply aware and is support of the global #MeToo movement and what it stands for. I am the father of a young girl, husband to a wife and son to a mother."
"I am man that has stood up for myself, my family, my colleagues and friends, countless times in face of slander, defamation and general unkindness.", he tweeted
"I will do the same today. I have nothing to hide. Silence is absolutely not an option", he asserted.
Zafar said that he intends to take the matter in the court of law"I categorically deny any and all the claims of harassment lodged against me by Ms Shafi. I intend to take this through the courts of law and to address this professionally and seriously rather than to lodge any allegations here, contesting personal vendettas on social media and in turn disrespecting the movement, my family, the industry and my fans .
— Ali Zafar (@AliZafarsays) April 19, 2018
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