A day after singer Meesha Shafi accused Ali Zafar of sexual harassment, more women from Pakistan’s entertainment industry have come forward to allege that the actor misbehaved with them on various occasions.
In a lengthy Twitter post on Thursday, Shafi had said she had been subjected to sexual harassment “of a physical nature” at the hands of Zafar on more than one occasion.
Soon after the revelation, Pakistani journalist Maham Javaid tweeted that Zafar had tried to kiss her cousin “many years ago”.
“So @itsmeeshashafi’s brave sharing of her experience reminded me of a story about @AliZafarsays from many many years ago, when Ali Zafar tried to kiss my cousin and pull my cousin into a restroom with him. Luckily my cousin’s friends were there to push Ali Zafar off,” she wrote.
Maham said they did not report the incident as they thought nobody would have believed their side of the story.
“We didn’t even think of telling anyone, apart from friends, or reporting him because ‘he’s a celebrity, no one would possibly care or listen’. And over the years, we forgot the story ourselves, until today. Thanks @itsmeeshashafi for reminding us that our stories matters.”
She added that the alleged incident happened on a boat party between 2004-2005.
Make-up artist Leena Ghani also shared her story on social media. She said while clicking a selfie with Zafar, she felt him touching her inappropriately.
“In the many years I have known Ali, he has on several occasions crossed boundaries of what is appropriate behaviour between friends. I have chosen to ignore it out of respect for his family, but today I feel I must speak my truth in light of recent revelations.
“His behaviour displays a clear lack of respect for women. Inappropriate contact, groping, sexual comments should not fall in the grey area between humour and indecency. In such cases most women like myself run from such a situation and hope to God you never cross paths again. And when by some misfortune you do, you hide from him. Hoping his sleazy eyes and hands don’t find you again. His hands don’t make their way up and down your waist or hold you too tight while you desperately try to wiggle and run,” she wrote.
Ghani said the fact that Ali thought he could get away by saying vulgar things to her still “disgusts me”.
Pakistan star Mahira Khan took to social media to support the women speaking out against harassment.
“The sick mentality of those commenting on an issue as serious as sexual harassment as casually as they are just shows where the root of this problem exists — in our minds. We will continue to breed harassers for as long as we continue to desensitise this issue,” she wrote.
Zafar, a well-known face in Bollywood, had denied any wrongdoing.
“I categorically deny any and all claims of harassment lodged against me by Ms Shafi. I intend to take this through the courts of law and to address this professionally and seriously rather than to lodge any allegations here, contesting personal vendettas on social media and in turn disrespecting the movement, my family, the industry and my fans”.
“Ultimately, I am a strong believer that the truth always prevails,” Zafar had said in a statement posted on Twitter.