News Channels Hound Rhea Chakraborty, But Ignore Sexual Harassment Allegations at Their Doorstep

Social Commentary

News Channels Hound Rhea Chakraborty, But Ignore Sexual Harassment Allegations at Their Doorstep

Illustration: Arati Gujar

Even as news channels continue their unabashed coverage of Sushant Singh Rajput’s death, and the dozens of conspiracy theories that have emerged since, a serious accusation of sexual harassment levelled against a senior management official of a media house hasn’t received even half the attention it should have.

A few days ago, a former senior employee at a top news channel told the police that a member of the company’s management had touched her inappropriately and demanded sexual favours from her. When she refused to comply, according to her complaint, she was asked to leave the company. The case has been filed at a police station in Mumbai.

The complaint doesn’t name the company or the accused, but Times Now put out a statement soon after, discrediting the story as “frivolous and malicious allegations”.

“There have been no complaints of harassment by her against any person during her entire tenure of 12 years. This sudden complaint after her services are terminated is a motivated and malicious action,” the media house said, announcing that it had filed a case against the former employee for blackmail and criminal intimidation.

However, a few on Twitter, including lawyer and activist Saket Gokhale, have said that the person accused of sexual harassment between 2008 and 2020 was none other than the CEO and MD of the company, and demanded an impartial investigation into the case.

After the media house claimed that there had been no complaints for the 12 years that the journalist worked there, a few also felt the need to list reasons why women might be afraid to report sexual harassment in the workplace, including the fear of backlash, as we’ve seen happen too many times in the last few years – and as the Times Now case itself proves.

A few others also pointed out that channel had been rather vocal about previous cases of sexual harassment, but resorted to blaming and intimidating its former employee rather than offering an explanation in this case.

As the police now start their investigation into the complaint, it’s worth noting that the accusations have been met largely with silence from most other media outlets, including news channels, which for the third month in a row have continued their onslaught against Rhea Chakraborty. It just goes to show how seriously sexual harassment at the workplace is taken in this country.