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Filmmaker Stirs Pakistan #MeToo Debate

by AFP
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Jamshed Mahmood Raza has alleged an unnamed ‘media tycoon’ raped him

Acclaimed Pakistani filmmaker Jamshed Mahmood Raza has added new momentum to the country’s fledgling #MeToo movement after airing allegations that he was raped by an unnamed media tycoon.

The director, who is popularly known as Jami, rocked Pakistani social media over the weekend after he published several tweets describing the alleged assault that happened 13 years ago.

“Why im so strongly supporting #metoo? cuz i know exactly how it happens now, inside a room then outside courts inside courts and how a survivor hides confides cuz i was brutally raped by a very powerful person in our media world,” he wrote on Sunday evening.

The tweets were in response to a backlash online after a professor in Lahore committed suicide after allegedly being falsely accused of sexual harassment. Amid the backlash, Jami pleaded with social media users to trust victims of sexual assault and avoid ignoring their accusations.

“I told my few close friends but no one took it seriously,” added Jami, whose 2015 film Moor (Mother) was a massive hit.

The filmmaker has so far refused to name the tycoon allegedly behind the assault, while the allegations have unleashed a torrent of differing reactions online.

“@jamiazaad I see you. I hear you. I stand with you. Always,” tweeted popular actress Meesha Shafi, who helped kickstart Pakistan’s #MeToo movement in 2018 after accusing a popular singer in the country of harassment. “Jami is a true ally. This is unprecedented in Pakistan. This kind of revelation from a man,” wrote another Twitter user.

Others were more skeptical. “Still, u cant b serious using it to square Lhr professor’s suicide & misuse of #MeToo,” said another Twitter user. “Pakistan is suffering by both #metoo & misuse of #MeToo.”

The #MeToo and #Timesup campaigns have gone global since allegations of sexual misconduct by Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein in 2017, sparking an avalanche of accusations against other powerful men. However, the movement has been slow to catch on in Pakistan, where women have fought for their rights for years in a patriarchal society where so-called “honor” killings and attacks on women remain commonplace.

In 2017, future Prime Minister Imran Khan was also hit with allegations of sexual misconduct by a female lawmaker who accused the famed cricketer of sending obscene text messages. He later denied the allegations.

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