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Sunday, May 28, 2023

Dawn chief inquiry: Filmmaker Jami counts the days

Filmmaker Jami accused DAWN’s CEO of rape and sexual harassment back in 2019. Dawn’s editor promised a thorough inquiry into these allegations. Now Jami has revealed that no inquiry is underway and the media group is silent on the matter.

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Dawn, Pakistan’s respected English language newspaper, seems to be unable to keep its words as the senior administration is reluctant to conduct an inquiry to probe Jami’s rape case against its CEO Haroon Hameed.

According to a report, Dawn Media Group had promised an inquiry last year following filmmaker Jami’s allegations of rape and sexual harassment against Hameed Haroon. But it has been four months since they announced this, and there have been no updates.


The report further notes that “Dawn has also not offered any justification for their silence in the matter. Jami has been constantly trying to reach out to media organizations and has been raising his voice against the alleged crime, but all in vain. There has been a deafening silence from the media groups who otherwise advocate accountability for the perpetrators of sexual abuse”.

Read More: Hameed Haroon, Dawn’s CEO files defamation case against Jami

It is worth recalling that in October last year, the filmmaker had come forward with his #MeToo story, alleging that he was raped by a media tycoon, but did not mention the name of the rapist.

Jami’s allegations came in the wake of attacks on the #MeToo campaign on social media after a professor in Lahore who was wrongly accused of harassment by one of his students committed suicide.

Hameed Haroon rejects rape allegations   

In response, Haroon issued a statement categorically rejecting the rape accusations. “The story is simply untrue and intentionally fabricated at the instance of those who wish to silence me and through me, to compel the newspaper that I represent to support their repressive narrative,” said Haroon, adding that he will initiate legal action.

Haroon also warned that “I am initiating legal action to clear my name and reputation, and to safeguard the freedom of the press by bringing to justice all those responsible for these false and malicious allegations against me.”

Read More: Jami & Hameed Haroon Rape saga: DAWN in the cross fire

“I first met Jami Raza when he was a freelance photographer and aspiring filmmaker in the 1990s or the early 2000s, which was the time that Jami had produced photographs of the Sir Jehangir Kothari bandstand for the purposes of architectural documentation and conservation. Impressed with Jami’s work, I enlisted him in 2003-04 to collaborate with me on a photo essay in the catalogue of the Sadequain exhibition at the Mohatta Palace Museum. I do recall going to his house sometime thereafter to condole on his father’s death but was unable to personally meet him. I do not recall ever being alone with Jami Raza. This has been the sum total of my interaction with Jami,” he said.

“I am convinced that the false and malicious allegation has been levelled at the instigation of powerful interests in the state and society who, for their own motives and the promotion of their own repressive narrative, wish to destroy my credibility and as a consequence thereof, the credibility of the newspaper group that I am associated with”, he added.

Dawn Chief Executive Officer (CEO) also filed a defamation case against filmmaker Jamshed Mahmood, better known as Jami, in the Sindh High Court (SHC).

In his petition, CEO Dawn detailed the accusations levelled by Jami and urged the court to perpetually restrain [the filmmaker], through himself or by instigating others, from making defamatory statements.

Misuse of #MeToo

#MeToo is a social movement against sexual harassment and sexual assault. It got popularity in 2017 when many actresses and celebrities spoke up and exposed big names who were allegedly involved in the worst sort of sexual harassment. Many women in Pakistan also came forward against their harassers and shared their bitter experiences.

However, some scholars and political commentators maintain that the campaign is being misused in the developing world for political benefits. “Let’s be honest and admit the fact that #MeToo in Pakistan has been misused in many cases. This is sad since it has made the entire campaign questionable,” G-M Pitafi told GVS.

Read More: Stephen Sackur jolted Dawn’s CEO Hameed Haroon: reality behind ‘impartial’ media exposed

In August 2017, prior to Jami’s rape case, Ms. Ayesha Gulalai, Member of the National Assembly of Pakistan and a woman leader of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) accused Imran Khan of sexual harassment. “Imran Khan sent some indecent texts to me back in 2013”, she said. She remained in the party for almost 4 years, became MPA and held several meetings with Imran Khan but ultimately decided to speak up and quit the party. Journalists demanded answers from Imran Khan, now Prime Minister of Pakistan.

On the 19th of April 2018, Meesha Shafi, Pakistani singer, accused her colleague and renowned singer and actor Ali Zafar of sexual harassment in a tweet. Once again Pakistani liberals and ‘defenders of women rights’ stood up against Ali for allegedly harassing his colleague. Ali kept on refuting the allegations but women’s rights activists refused to ‘trust’ him. The matter has been brought before the court by Ali.

On November 9th, journalist Urooj Zia accused Dr. Taimur Rehman of LUMS of sexually harassing some women. “15+ reports of @Taimur_Laal grabbing women’s butts at KLF ’14 – not accidents; proper copping a feel – while he was there with his pregnant wife. The women wish to remain anonymous because they don’t want their names associated with the vileness that is Taimur Rahman. #MeToo” she tweeted.

Read More: Misuse of #MeToo: In defense of Dr. Taimur Rehman

Dr. Rehman categorically rejected the allegations and preferred not to speak much on the subject.

Experts and opinion-makers believe that Pakistani media, civil society and public intellectuals need to dig into the phenomenon of sexual harassment in order to determine some objective set of rules to ensure that nobody misuses the said platform for vested political interests. However, Jami’s rape case needs to be investigated as per Dawn’s commitment.