“Nearly 70% Indian Women Musicians Have #MeToo Stories”
Women from various sectors particularly the ones related to the entertainment industry are coming out about their sexual harassment incidents. After the media and film industry, now a survey conducted on the Indian music industry shows that 69.52% of women from India’s music scene indicated they have faced some form of sexual harassment. Indian-American singer-songwriter Amanda Sodhi held the survey with responses from over 100 women from India’s music industry.
The survey shows some rather unsettling results including the finding that around 22.48% of women have received inappropriate comments, either verbally or via messages from their male colleagues. Almost 21.56% of women have experienced inappropriate touching, patting, hugging, kissing, etc. About 3.21% of women have faced sexual assault by their perpetrators from within the industry.
It found that 25.77% of the predators were musicians, 24.54% were music composers, 18.41% were event and gig organisers, 9.82% were singers and 7.98% were talent managers, according to the women who took the survey.
Of the women who have experienced sexual harassment within the Indian music industry as many as 29.93% identified as singer-songwriters and 17.69% identified as musicians. Among the women who took the survey, 75% between the age group of 18 and 25 have faced sexual harassment.
Sexual Harassment Allegations Against Musicians
In October 2018, Sa Re Ga Ma Pa Telugu judge, Chinmayi Sripada anonymously accused Tamil lyricist Vairamuthu of forcefully hugging and kissing her years back.
After the revelation, the dubbing union terminated her services and asked her to pay Rs 1.5 lakh and write an apology letter to the South Indian Cine Television Artist Dubbing Union (SICTADU) for the singer to get her reinstated in the union. It has been reported that her termination happened because she supported women who accused the union president Radha Ravi of sexual harassment.
When the Indian #MeToo campaign unfolded, Singer Kailash Kher was also accused of sexual harassment by photojournalist Natasha Hemrajani. She took to Twitter to share her #MeToo story that involved Kher. After Hemrajani, a fan recounted her experience with the singer and one more anonymous journalist accused him of sexual harassment. Famous singer Sona Mohapatra also retweeted the fan’s tweet and added allegations against Kher.
Additionally, Mohapatra also accused music composer Anu Malik of sexually harassing her. Another singer Shweta Pandit and two other women also joined Mohapatra and revealed some worrying details of how Malik harassed them. Alisha Chinai also amplified their sentiment by saying, “Every word said and written about Anu Malik is true. I stand by all the women who have finally spoken up.”
Several others belonging to music industries from regional cinema as well have been accused and ousted during the MeToo movement.
“Having faced sexual harassment within the music scene several times over the past few years, I felt it was important to collect data regarding the experiences of other women because there haven’t been any numbers on the table about how rampant sexual harassment really is within the Indian music scene,” said Sodhi.
Why women don’t file complaints?
The survey took in to perspective another significant aspect of if women musicians ever filed complaints against their perpetrators. It disclosed that 20.76% of women didn’t think reporting incidents will make any difference. Around 16.98% of women were afraid of losing out on work opportunities and 12.26% of women were afraid of their safety.
“Having faced sexual harassment within the music scene several times over the past few years, I felt it was important to collect data regarding the experiences of other women because there haven’t been any numbers on the table about how rampant sexual harassment really is within the Indian music scene,”
Need For Affirmative Actions
A staggering 97.1% of women in music think the Indian music industry should have initiatives, organisations, and committees to handle sexual harassment incidents and ensure justice.
“When I was conducting extensive research to administer this survey, I could barely find 400-500 names of women active in the music scene nationwide. It’s sad that we can’t even offer a safe work environment for such a tiny group.
Since fear of losing out on work opportunities was one of the top two reasons to not report incidents of sexual harassment, I hope female artists who are doing hundreds of shows each year can perhaps pledge to employ X number of women in the year for X number of shows –whether it is opening acts, musicians or sound engineers,” Sodhi added.
Picture credit: The News Minute