Delhi Commission for Women chairperson Swati Maliwal wrote to Union Information and Broadcasting Minister Anurag Thakur on Monday sought removing filmmaker Sajid Khan from reality show Bigg Boss over allegations of sexual harassment against him.
Khan is a contestant in the season 16 of Bigg Boss that began airing on October 1.
In 2018, actor Saloni Chopra and Rachel White and journalist Karishma Upadhyay had spoken out on social media and accused Khan of sexual harassment. He had then stepped down as director of the movie Housefull 4. Following the allegations, the Indian Film and Television Directors’ Association had suspended him for a year.
Now, Khan has been facing criticism on social media for his participation in the reality TV show. On Monday, Maliwal requested Thakur that giving space to Khan on national television despite all the allegations is “completely wrong”.
“As the complaints against him reveal, it appears that Sajid Khan has acted as a sexual predator for a long time,” Maliwal wrote.
She added: “Clearly it is inappropriate for an alleged sexual offender such as Sajid Khan to be included in a primetime show which is watched by adults and children alike. This apparently gives him an undue opportunity to ‘whitewash” his wrongs and be re-launched amongst Indian audiences.”
Maliwal said that Khan’s inclusion in the show “underlines the precedence that men who enjoy clout in the entertainment industry easily get away with abusive acts without facing any consequences”.
She also said that that Khan’s presence in the show disrespects and invalidates those women who spoke out against his inappropriate sexual advances.
“They are upcoming celebrities in Bollywood and risked their careers to come forward and complain against abuse by an authority figure,” the DCW chairperson wrote. “While there is a public outcry against Khan’s inclusion in the show, the makers of the show are refusing to remove him, as they apparently gain TRP [Television Rating Point] ratings and viewership due to the ensuing controversy.”
The makers of the reality show have not addressed the allegations against Khan.