Is India having its #MeToo moment?

A year on from Harvey Weinstein scandal the world’s biggest democracy has been shaken by allegations of sexual misconduct

Nana Patekar
Bollywood actor Nana Patekar denies claims of sexual harassment
(Image credit: AFP/Getty Images)

India is on the cusp of its own #MeToo moment, following a flurry of sexual assault allegations that have rocked the media, entertainment industry and government.

The movement appears to have been prompted by allegations late last month by former Bollywood actress Tanushree Dutta, who spoke publicly about being a victim of assault, allegedly in 2008 by her former co-star Nana Patekar. He denies her claims and has sent her a legal notice accusing her of making false allegations.

CNN reports that, “in the days since, numerous women from all walks of life have taken to social media to narrate their experiences of assault or inappropriate behavior at the hands of prominent Indian men”.

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There have been allegations against a prominent journalist and a minister in Narendra Modi’s government, among others.

And, in echoes of the Harvey Weinstein scandal, there has been a sexual harassment allegation against one of the co-founders of a major Bollywood production house. Vikas Bahl, a co-founder of Phantom Films, the Bollywood studio responsible for Netflix’s first original series in India, was accused of harassment by a former employee. He denied the claims last year but, after HuffPost India asked to do an in-depth interview about the accusation this month, the company announced it would be dissolved.

“Many of the allegations have resulted in immediate consequences,” says CNN.

Prashant Jha, the political editor of Hindustan Times, India’s leading newspaper, stepped down after allegations that he had sent inappropriate messages on Whatsapp.

Then, on Tuesday, The Telegraph in India ran a story detailing allegations against its founding editor, MJ Akbar, who is currently serving in government as junior external affairs minister. He is yet to respond to the claims.

“The weeks ahead will indicate whether India's Me Too movement can maintain its momentum and what kind of action will be taken,” says CNN, but it looks like the tidal wave that has gripped the much of the west has finally arrived in the world's largest democracy.

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