Noted actor and BJP MP Kirron Kher has candidly spoken about sexual harassment allegations against Sajid Khan and her party colleague MJ Akbar. Speaking on the launch of the new edition of her reality show India’s Got Talent, Kher said that she wished that women had come out a lot earlier about these allegations.
On Union Minister MJ Akbar facing serious allegations of sexual misconduct, the BJP MP from Chandigarh said, “Maneka Gndhi has announced a committee of retired judges to investigate the allegations. Everywhere there are allegations. I am sure it will be investigated. As we all know Mr Akbar is not in India right now. I am sure when he comes back, you will get the answer on that. I am a Member of Parliament, I am not in the cabinet. So I am not privy to what has happened there. And right now I am shooting for India’s Got Talent, but I am sure they will take actions.”
Kher has co-hosted India’s Got Talent reality show with Sajid in the past. Responding to allegations against Sajid, the veteran actor said, “I’ve known him (Sajid) for many years and this never happened to me, so I can’t comment on this. How much truth are there in those allegations can only be answered by Sajid or the young ladies, who’ve made the allegations. I don’t think it’s right for me to comment on what’s put on social media because I have not experienced it. I respect the girls, who have come out now, though I wished they had come out earlier.”
Kher said that it was not right to target only Sajid since many people from different backgrounds had been named in what’s being termed as India’s own MeToo campaign. Reiterating that the women coming forward now should have done so a lot earlier, Kher said, “According to me, it’s not just about the film industry. It’s happening everywhere. This is happening in your media houses. This is happening in government offices too. This is happenig in schools and colleges, in villages and cities. There is a law called Vishakha Guidelines, which is supposed to be there in every institutions. Whosoever suffers (sexual harassment), they should complaint immediately. The institutions are supposed to investigate this. If you are not following Vishakha Guidelines, then you are making a mistake.
“Those who wait for these many years ought to have spoken about this a lot earlier so that you stem it right at the beginning and it doesn’t progress further. Unfortunately, this is happening because of the mindset. Why is rape happening in the world? Why did it happen to Nirbhaya in Delhi? Why are children raped? Why are there honour killings? It’s the same mindset. They feel the sense of power and entitlement over the women and disrespect for women. I, therefore, feel that if you raise your voice earlier and don’t wait for so many years, then it will be good.”
She said that running merely running a campaign on social media was not not going to be very effective. She said, “How far can you go by running a campaign on social media? Many people will get scot-free even today. Many will lie, many may speak truth. What happened in the case of Mr Tarun Tejpal? There also they had not implemented Vishakha guidelines.”
Malika Arora, who’s co-hosting this year’s India’s Got Talent with Karan Johar and Kher, said said that there was the need to teach children at home to respect women. She said, “I have a son, so does Kirron ji. We need to teach them at the root level that you cannot disrespect women. You cannot think that women are like play objects.”