“As I was leaving, he made a pass at me in the lift. I was so angry."
With the #MeToo movement growing day-by-day in Bollywood and new allegations of sexual harassment and inappropriate behaviour by men against actresses who are yearning to become stars, the question arises what about the UK?
Surely, there must be scenarios of #MeToo which have taken place in British Asian entertainment and media industries?
Asian media, targeting South Asian communities in the UK, is one environment where such cases are most likely with promises made by those in more powerful positions, for popularity, fame and significant work opportunities in exchange for what today is very well recognised as inappropriate behaviour and sexual harassment.
Be it an emerging female star who wants high-end coverage, to a potential journalist eager to develop her career and get work with an established publication or medium.
Exclusively, two brave women have come forward to DESIblitz, to provide their alleged experiences of such #MeToo behaviour by a journalist working in British Asian media.
As you can imagine with fear of backlash and to protect the women for their safety, and legal protection for the individual accused, anonymity is imperative.
We will call the first woman, Meena and the second woman, Saima. These fictitious names are being used purely for anonymity are not meant to be representative of anyone with the same names in reality.
We, therefore, present the alleged experiences of Meena and Saima at the hands of this journalist in Asian media, whom we shall refer to as Mr X.
The women have also made us aware that they are not the only women to have experienced such behaviour. Mr X has allegedly done similar to others too.
Whilst using different names we are quoting what the women have disclosed to us directly, whilst withholding names of people and publications.
Images are used for illustration purposes only and are not to be representative of the two women in any way or manner.
For the first case and accusation against Mr X, we present Meena’s alleged experience.
The contact with the journalist first started for Meena when she was young, “vulnerable and impressionable” at the time.
Mr X made Meena feel sorry for him by projecting he was not “loved” or liked by anyone in his family or circle of people.
With Meena, not having such experiences in family, and feeling sorry for him, he began to gain her trust, through time. This resulted in him taking more from the relationship that she expected, leaving her confused.
With her not being able to tell anyone due to community differences and fear, he knew he could capitalise on the relationship he had with her, for his needs.
This relationship eventually did stop and end but then Mr X decided to contact her again, after many years.
Talking about Mr X, Meena says:
“He picked me, (like other similar victims I now know) because I am successful and financially stable but was vulnerable at the time he started edging in on me.”
Talking about how and why Mr X contacted her, she tells us:
“He contacted me after many years of us not talking and he emailed me, telling me he had a bereavement and wanted to make amends and asked if I could visit him.
“It took a while but I eventually responded and agreed to see him, especially if he was suffering as he claimed.”
However, when Meena met up with him expecting to console him for his loss, it became evident Mr X had other plans, she tells us:
“When I saw him, he did not seem upset or even talked about the person who supposedly died. All he did was talk about himself and how he was popular in certain circles.
“He gloated about these people being his friends. Totally full of himself, I was reminded why I hated interactions with him.
“Then he started doing what he did years ago, which was giving me a sob story.”
Mr X then went onto display his ‘influence’ to Meena and how he could easily help for her get into media. Meena did not even ask Mr X for this.
Meena then tells us what took place next which really affected her once again when she met Mr X that day, saying:
“I had seen him for lunch that day and we had gone to a local restaurant. I was heading home and decided to have coffee before I left and he suggested we go back to his place.
“I was just taking my time before heading off and then he said why don’t you go and lie down in the bedroom. I thought what? He said, oh just saying you can if you want, if you’re tired.”
Not being comfortable with this, Meena did not even finish her coffee and decided to leave.
However, Mr X then approached her and she tells us what happened next:
“As I was leaving, he made a pass at me in the lift. I was so angry.”
“All of this was one big trick to get me to his place and using a bereavement as an excuse to hit on me.”
After Meena left, Mr X still tried to contact her many times after, as she explains:
“He kept sending me messages after but I knew there were ulterior motives.”
Meena subsequently found out that she was not the only person to have gone through such an experience with Mr X.
Mr X has been trying this a lot with other young women trying to get into the media industry.
She tells us:
“There is a definite pattern of behaviour with how he grooms women, who are mostly younger emerging creative talent in the industry. Mostly but not exclusively – he targets wealthy older women too.
“I believe he deliberately targets majority Hindu and Sikh women because he knows that religious differences would protect him as a male within a world where women are responsible for honour and feel shame.
“Also if you’re young and someone who is older, experienced – that power dynamic is immediately in favour of that person and he knows this.”
Bravely, Meena then tells us more about Mr X, saying:
“He pretends to be single but is married.”
Speaking about Mr X and her experiences with him and others, she says and warns:
“I never told many people about what happened to me, and this isn’t even the end of the story with this disgusting man.
“This man is a sexual predator who is a serial manipulator and abuser of women.
“So much so that he is operating in plain sight and I think he gets a thrill from knowing he is getting away with deceiving so many people in the public and industry.
“He tricks women, manipulates situations to make them feel they are in relationships with him and then he begins to abuse them bieng attached.
“I have spoken to a number of women he attached himself to because of their status, wealth, and almost intruded himself into their lives.
“He’s just a huge con artist. He needs to be stopped.”
The account of Meena has certainly highlighted #MeToo experiences that she has had to endure in the company of Mr X, who seems to be allegedly using his profile as a means of luring young inexperienced women and duping them for his personal agenda.
Impact on Meena
We asked Meena a series of questions about the impact of what she has endured by alleged the behaviour of Mr X towards her.
How has this affected you in the long run, especially with relationships?
It has affected me because I find it very hard to trust men and always think about their ulterior motives. I particularly feel this way about Asian men.
Has it affected your mental health and wellbeing?
This has been the worst effect of the abuse because I am left with trauma.
I get regular flashbacks of conversations and situations which were very damaging to my mental health and as a result, my physical body. I can not sleep or rest my mind in the face of all of this injustice, which I have endured alone.
I’m trying to rebuild myself now as a result of going through the Freedom programme, for survivors of abuse.
I think, in fact, I’m sure that if the man who abused me was held accountable, named and shamed then this might give me some closure but right now. I see him continuing to fool everyone into thinking he’s a good guy. When in actual fact he’s an abuser of women but is good at keeping his victims separate so they never interact and realise what he is doing.
Looking back what would you have done differently?
I’m not sure what I could have done differently except to listen to my gut instincts. I always got a strange feeling from being around him, but I was manipulated into not trusting myself.
Gaslighting can be so severe that it can affect the victim’s ability to see reality. Over time they can’t think straight and make decisions because the abuser broke them down. That’s what he did to me. I began to see things from his perspective and not my own.
If I had told my family what had happened, then they would have blamed me. They would have blamed me for talking to him in the first place so I ended up being isolated and I think he knew that. He knew I was on my own so it made it easy to manipulate me.
When I started working through all of the abuse, I was able to start releasing all the hurt and pain I had experienced for far too long.
The guilt I was carrying as a victim was not mine. He is the one who should feel guilty. He should feel shame for what he did to me and others.
And when I knew there were others, who had similar experiences to me – I was relieved and angry.
Angry that no one is speaking up, not even the men who witness his bad behaviour. Men have to call out bad behaviour too. Instead of dismissing it and colluding with the perpetrator saying it’s a ‘man thing’.
How many others do you know personally with whom this person did this?
I know of eight but have spoken to three.
Would you be supportive of a #AsianMediaMeToo movement?
Yes, I would be supportive.
For the second case and accusation against Mr X, we present Saima’s alleged experience, which was provided to us as a statement.
Saima tells us about her encounter with Mr X regarding a work proposition in Asian media, saying:
“I was invited to meet Mr X in private to talk about a work opportunity.
“I met him through a mutual contact, who gave me his number, and we arranged the meeting.
“I was an aspiring writer at the time, and our mutual contact thought it would be a good idea that Mr X and I were connected.”
Saima was meeting Mr X for the first time so she recalls the meeting, telling us:
“I met him for the first time, he was very friendly and hospitable. It was just the two of us in a room.
“I sat down on one of the sofas and he started showing me books and magazines that he’d written.
“He asked me about my own aspirations and how he could help me.”
Saima then provides us with an account of Mr X’s alleged behaviour with her subsequently, saying:
“As I was sat on one of the sofas, he came and sat next to me and put his arm around my waist.”
“I remember this making me feel very uncomfortable, as I hardly knew him and he was behaving overly familiar.
“I didn’t know what to do and just froze.
“He soon moved to a different seat. After some conversation, he showed me to the balcony, he put his arm around my shoulder as he was showing me something.
“Again, I found this very uncomfortable.”
Saima then tells us how she was not at all expecting the alleged behaviour of Mr X at their meeting, saying:
“We then went inside and continued our conversation. I trusted him because of our mutual friend – I didn’t expect he would do anything inappropriate and that’s exactly why I agreed to meet him in private in this first place.”
After the meeting, Saima tells us what took place next, saying:
“Nothing else happened outside of these two incidents, but then I did not meet him again.
“He said he would mentor me and teach me about the world of journalism, though he wasn’t very supportive and was quite critical of my writing.”
Concluding, Saima reveals to us that she realised that Mr X had personal motives and helping her excel in journalism was not one of them, saying:
“It became clear to me that he was not genuine and just used his connections as bait and that he was trying to impress me.
“I cut contact with him eventually as his true intentions became clear.”
Once again, this second case of the alleged behaviour of Mr X with someone completely new, he had not met before, rings alarm bells of a #MeToo experience, where he used his experience in the Asian media industry as a means of wooing a woman.
These two cases of the alleged inappropriate interactions and behaviour of Mr X does question the possible issue of #MeToo in UK’s Asian media industry, being experienced by women and even men.
DESIblitz certainly would like to see the start of an #AsianMediaMeToo movement which can help those who have been subjected to such unacceptable behaviour by those who are influential in the British Asian media industry, to encourage safer and #MeToo free working environments for women and men.
If you have experienced any such #MeToo behaviour or misconduct towards, please get in touch with us at firstname.lastname@example.org for us to help you with your story.
You can send your email anonymously too under a different name and email.
If you require help after any kind of behaviour which constitutes sexual harassment, abuse or unacceptable behaviour, visit the following websites for support and contact the police.
- Victim Support – help for sexual harassment, rape and other forms of abuse
- Safeline – support for survivors of sexual harassment, abuse and rape
- Survivors UK – help for male sexual abuse and rape
- Survivors Trust – local and national support for survivors of sexual assault and other forms of abuse
- Galop – help for LGBT survivors of hate, rape, sexual abuse or domestic violence