Actress and singer Meesha Shafi became the first Pakistani celebrity to tweet about the #MeToo movement when she recently shared that she had been sexually harassed by singer Ali Zafar.
“I will break the culture of silence that permeates through our society,” Shafi wrote in a tweet preceding a written statement. “It is not easy to speak out.. but it is harder to stay silent.”
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
Shafi, who appeared in Mira Nair’s film The Reluctant Fundamentalist, did not go into detail about what the alleged sexual harassment entailed, only saying in her statement that she had “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.”
Her statement also goes on to make it a point to note that the incidents she mentioned did not occur when she was a young newcomer in the music industry. “This happened to me as a mother of two children,” she wrote. “No woman is every safe from sexual harassment.”
Zafar, who has appeared in several Bollywood films in addition to his career as a singer, denied Shafi’s accusations in a Twitter statement of his own.
— Ali Zafar (@AliZafarsays) April 19, 2018
“I am deeply aware and in support of the global #MeToo movement and what it stands for,” Zafar said, going on to deny Shafi’s allegations of harassment. “I intend to take this through the courts of law and to address this professionally and seriously.”
Since Shafi released her statement on Thursday, several other women have shared stories accusing Zafar of similar conduct, reports the Times of India. “I am in total solidarity with you. You are not alone because #MeToo,” tweeted makeup artist Leena Ghani.
Thank you @itsmeeshashafi for your courage and your bravery. It’s never easy. But that should never silence us. I am in total solidarity with you. You are not alone in this because #Metoo #TimesUp #WeBelieveYou pic.twitter.com/hkQ61bqnFH
— Leena (@Leena_Ghani) April 19, 2018