As the wave of #MeToo movement entered Pakistan, Meesha Shafi came forward with her sexual harassment allegations against Ali Zafar on April 19th. She released her statement on Twitter, saying ‘I have been subjected, on more than one occasion, to sexual harassment of a physical nature at the hands of a colleague from my industry: Ali Zafar.’
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
After the tweet went viral, Ali Zafar responded within 3 hours. Ali’s statement read ‘I categorically deny any and all claims of harassment lodged against me by Ms Shafi.’
— Ali Zafar (@AliZafarsays) April 19, 2018
Many influencers from the media industry stepped forward, speaking for and against Ali Zafar. While Osman Khalid Butt offered support to Meesha’s claims, Maya Ali vouched for Ali’s character. Actress Saba Hamid, Meesha’s mother, stood by her daughter.
I cannot believe we are still confused about this. https://t.co/GEdNGGj9Ps
— Osman Khalid Butt (@aClockworkObi) April 19, 2018
Teefa in Trouble, a movie starring Ali Zafar and Maya Ali, also received a lot of criticism following the sexual harassment claims. People not only boycotted the movie, they also protested outside cinemas across Pakistan. The movie was released last month.
It's important to boycott Teefa in Trouble an Ali Zafar movie. Given the circumstances that he is a harasser and half a dozen women have spoken up we can not appreciate artwork of an artisit like him.
"It's the artist's work we can appreciate good artwork"
NO WE CAN NOT.
— woebegone🦄🏳️🌈 (@reneSERVILEgade) June 14, 2018
While Meesha filed sexual harassment complaint against Ali, Ali went on to accuse Meesha for defamation. Meesha’s lawyer filed a complaint with provincial ombudsperson which was dismissed on a technical ground. Then the case was again dismissed by the Punjab Governor today.
According to the provisions laid out by Protection Against Harassment of Women in the Workplace Act 2010, Ali and Meesha didn’t have an employer-employee relationship. The act only caters to that specific category. And thus the case was dismissed.
Meesha Shafi's case dismissed on a technicality.
In the end, it didn't MATTER if she had evidence or not, or whether she was harassed or not.
All that mattered was a man in charge of the case used a technicality to absolve Ali Zafar.
Meesha, I still believe you. #MeToo
— Tony Khan (@anthonypermal) August 1, 2018
However, this does not prove anything. Meesha plans to appeal to the High Court next.
Where do you think Meesha Shafi stands now? Has she lost her fight against sexual harassment?