Singer Chinmayi Sripaada on Monday endorsed the allegations of sexual harassment against Tamil poet-lyricist Vairamuthu after several users on Twitter accused him of inappropriate conduct and sexual abuse. “More stories are coming from women terrified to say who they are,” she wrote.
Vairamuthu took to Twitter on Wednesday to describe the claims against him as part of an effort to “insult him”. “Spreading defamatory things about popular personalities is becoming a culture across the country,” the poet tweeted. “I will not bother about falsehood. Time will tell the truth.”
In a series of tweets, the singer alleged that an organiser at a concert in Switzerland had asked her to meet the poet at his hotel in Lucerne. “He [organiser] told me to cooperate,” Sripaada tweeted. “I refused. We demanded to be sent back to India. He said: ‘You won’t have a career!’”
She alleged that, in another incident, the poet threatened to make false claims about her when she turned down his request to sing at an event. Sripaada said Vairamuthu said he “will tell [a politician] you spoke ill of him on stage, yelled at me and kept the phone down”.
In an anonymous message to journalist Sandhya Menon, a woman has accused Vairamuthu of sexual harassment at the workplace and said he attempted to hug and kiss her on the “pretext of explaining lyrics”. The alleged incident took place when the woman was 18 years old, at the lyricist’s house in Kodambakkam, Chennai. Menon shared the screenshots of the account on her Twitter page.
In a second instance, a woman accused Vairamuthu of trying to kiss her during a meeting at his home. Another anonymous woman has accused the lyricist of inviting her to his office on the “pretext of appreciating my work”, locking the door, and then trying to touch her. Vairamuthu also allegedly asked the woman not to inform his wife as the two families knew each other.
Chinmayi Sripaada on Monday tweeted about instances of harassment she has personally experienced.
The allegations against Vairamuthu come at a time when several women, including journalists, have taken to social media to give detailed accounts of the sexual harassment and misconduct they faced. The campaign, dubbed the #MeToo movement in India, has taken the media fraternity by storm as several senior journalists, writers and media professionals have been accused of sexual misconduct.
On Monday, writer, director and producer Vinta Nanda alleged that actor Alok Nath had raped her in her home nearly two decades ago after he was sacked from the popular television show Tara for misbehaving with its lead actress.
Four journalists also made allegations of sexual harassment against veteran journalist and Minister of State for External Affairs MJ Akbar.
Director Vikas Bahl, former Hindustan Times political editor Prashant Jha, actor Rajat Kapoor, Kashmiri journalist Fahad Shah, stand-up comedian Utsav Chakraborty and author Chetan Bhagat are among those who have been accused of sexual misconduct in the past few days.
In view of the statements of women who have made public their experiences of journalist Mayank Jain’s misconduct, we at Scroll in the spirit of fair disclosure would like to state that Mayank Jain worked for Scroll from October 15, 2014 to October 30, 2016, and then from June 12, 2017 to December 31, 2017.
A woman employee informally and verbally brought to the attention of a member of the internal complaints committee (ICC) at Scroll an instance of sexually inappropriate online behaviour by Mayank Jain in 2017. The employee, however, did not want to pursue the matter through a formal written complaint, without which no formal inquiry can be initiated. Despite this, the ICC took serious note of the matter and served a written warning to Mayank Jain, reminding him of Scroll’s strict policies prohibiting sexual harassment.
We, at Scroll, commit to continuing to better understand women’s experiences at the workplace and evolve further processes that may be required to prevent, acknowledge and respond to work cultures that are not enabling for women.
This article includes only those accounts in which the women have chosen to name themselves and their alleged harassers or in cases which there have been multiple accusations against one person. Scroll.in reporters are continuing to report the story, including efforts to corroborate and cover the cases where the women have chosen to be anonymous.