Ali Zafar issued a statement on Thursday to refute the allegations of sexual harassment levelled against him by her colleague Meesha Shafi.
In the statement, Ali acknowledged the significance of #MeToo campaign and then categorically denied all claims of harassment lodged against him by Meesha. He said, “I categorically deny any and all claims of harassment lodged against me by Ms Shafi.”
The Dear Zindagi star has revealed his intentions of taking to matter to court in order to “address this professionally and seriously rather than to lodge any allegations”. He accused Meesha of disrespecting the #MeeToo campaign by “contesting personal vendettas on social media”.
“Ultimately I am a strong believer that the truth always prevails,” he concluded.
Earlier, when asked about the allegations, the actor had responded saying he wasn’t ready to answer the question as of yet. According to a news channel that aired Ali’s reaction, he said, “I don’t want to talk about this issue right now.”
The #MeToo movement accelerated by Hollywood has sent waves of shock across the world bringing down the most powerful of men. Surprisingly, the movement has made its way to socially conservative Pakistan in a short period of time. ‘Surprising’ because though sexual harassment is prevalent in Pakistan, the taboo associated with it is enough to keep the victim quiet.
In a shocking turn of events, Pakistani singer Meesha Shafi has accused colleague and singer-actor Ali Zafar of sexual harassment.
Meesha, who is an example of a strong, empowered woman, known to speak her mind has alleged that Zafar has harassed her on “more than one occasion,” adding that, “These incidences did not happen when I was young, or just entering the industry. This happened to me despite the fact that I am an empowered, accomplished woman who is known for speaking her mind! This happened to me as a mother of two children.”
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
In a Twitter post, the singer shared her experience in a note with the caption, “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.”
The singer shared that the experience was a “traumatic one” for her and family.
“It has been an extremely traumatic experience for me and 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 his attitude and I know that I am not alone.”
“Today I am breaking this culture of silence and I hope that by doing that I am setting an example for young women in my country to do the same. We only have our voices and the time has come to use them,” she concluded.
Speaking to local media, Meesha said that taking this step was hard for her and that she felt vulnerable. However, she credited her mother, Saba Hamid and her family for supporting her throughout.
Both Ali and Meesha hinted at not staying silent on the matter. While Meesha tweeted that “it is not easy to speak out, but it is harder to stay silent,” Ali responded to her remarks saying, “I have nothing to hide. Silence is absolutely not an option.”
Fans on social media have expressed their disappointment at the incidents and many of them are heartbroken.
This development comes a week after music-streaming site, Patari’s CEO, Khalid Bajwa, was accused of sexual harassment by several women. Bajwa’s expose was followed by women coming forward and sharing their own experiences of sexual assault at the hands of different men.
The Pakistan film industry is yet to react, while everyone else holds their breath at this time because Meesha’s revelation could spark Lollywood’s own #MeToo movement and we’re not sure if we’re ready for it.