The #MeToo movement is seeing not only women coming forward with their stories but men too. One such story that has come out is from actor Rahul Raj Singh, who has accused writer Mushtaq Shiekh of sexually harassing him. Rahul said that it is not only women who are raped and brutalised, but men too, adding that he got the courage to speak out after actress Tanushree Dutta came out with her harassment story.
He said Tanushree, who had accused veteran actor Nana Patekar of sexually harassing her on the sets of a movie, gave him the courage to address his ‘demon’. He felt that Mushtaq should be named and shamed so that he does not abuse any other unsuspecting youngster.
“I didn’t realise I was the first male victim (of sexual harassment) to come out. Believe me, there are so many others boys like me who come here to become an actor and are subjected to a kind of exploitation they had never imagined or even heard of. Why do we presume that only women get sexually exploited? Men too are raped, brutalised, harassed and bullied,” IANS quoted Rahul as saying.
“He has been shamed. That was my motive. He will think many times before trying this (sexual advances) on other unsuspecting youngsters who come to Mumbai with stars in their eyes. I was only 19 when this happened to me. Can you imagine my confusion and shock?
“At that time Mushtaq Sheikh seemed a big name and a good way to find my way into cinema. He used to hang around with Shah Rukh Khan and Ekta Kapoor. I thought he could get me work. But after I refused his overtures, I rapidly started losing all hope of work. It was like a big signboard in front of me: ‘Give in or get out’.
“So much has happened to my life. I lost my film career. I lost opportunities on television. My personal life went through a turmoil. If I had work I may not have gone through what I did. But what is done is done.
“Thanks to the courage of one lady, Tanushree Dutta, who spoke about her harassment, I also found the courage to address my demon. I am glad I got it out during Dussehra, which is the time good conquers over evil,” he said.
He further revealed what his next big step in handling the perpetrator will be and who he will approach to plead his case with.
“I am going to Cine & TV Artists Association with my case. But no. I am not taking any legal action against my harasser. He has been named and shamed. That is enough for me,” he said.
“I spoke on behalf of all small-towners who come to Mumbai with stars in their eyes only to be treated like trash. Perhaps the voices of victims of sexual misbehaviour who are now speaking up, would give dignity to newcomers in the entertainment industry who have nowhere to go when a powerful man misuses his power,” he added.
Rahul concluded that he wants to make it clear that his protest has nothing to do with the perpetrator’s sexual preference, and that he has many gay friends and gets along well them. The only problem he has, he said, is with the pressure tactic higher-ups are using to bully a woman or a man into sleeping with them.