Home News Analysis Jami & Hameed Haroon Rape saga: DAWN in the cross fire

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

Journalists and rights’ activists, who stood by Meesha Shafi & Ayesha Gulalai when they alleged Ali Zafar and Imran Khan respectively of sexual harassment, seem to be indifferent in Jami’s case.

Dawn's

Jamshed Mahmood, a Pakistani filmmaker, named Hameed Haroon, Dawn’s CEO, as his alleged rapist. The accusations have created controversy where prominent defenders of #MeToo seems to be “indifferent” to what Jami has just revealed.

Jami made the accusation in a tweet on Saturday night from a new Twitter account he created, allegedly due to his previous account being hacked. He also shared the accusation on his Facebook page.

Read more: No industry for women: Bollywood #MeToo accused back at work

In October, the filmmaker had come forward with his #MeToo story, alleging that he was raped by a media tycoon, but stopped short of naming the rapist. His 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 on Monday 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: Major Bollywood celebrity manager attempts suicide after #MeToo allegations

“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 catalog 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 leveled 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.

“Not about Dawn vs. Jami”

Jami said in a post that he had feared “this entire plot that I’m part of Establishment to bring Dawn down” would be used against him. The director clarified that coming forward with his story was not about “Dawn vs Jami. It’s personal issue raised now (because) I’m doing all this for few years to help victims.”

He rejected the notion that he was acting on the behest of anyone, despite having been approached by some hoping, “to bring down Dawn. We refused every single time as I told them I’m from a family where we don’t use any illegal means to serve any purpose at all. Rest we will see in court. This is for victims and survivors. We put our neck out (because) #metoo died here in Pakistan (because) of all these dirty tricks.”

Read more: Fashion Industry signs #MeToo petition, supporting Meesha Shafi

“I’m giving my word to Dawn management that I would never hurt Dawn ever… Issue is sexual assault, not Dawn,” he assured the newspaper staff.

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 some 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: MAO College Principal Removed: Is Justice Served in Lecturer’s Suicide Case?

In August 2017, 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 spoke up and quit the party. Journalists demanded answers from Imran Khan, now Prime Minister of Pakistan.

On 19th April 2018, Meesha Shafi, Pakistani singer, accused her colleague and renowned singer and actor Ali Zafar of sexual harassment. She posted a tweet and accused Ali of harassment. 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.

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.

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