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After Meesha Shafi, more women say #MeToo against Ali Zafar

Lahore, April 20 (IANS) After Pakistani actress-model-singer accused actor Ali Zafar of sexual harassment — a claim he has denied — more women have come forward with similar allegations.

The women, while lending support Shafi, tweeted saying she was not alone and they had faced similar experiences, reported Geo News.

Make-up artist Leena Ghani thanked Shafi for being brave enough to speak out.

“Seeing Meesha’s courage it’s impossible for me to not speak now, not only in support of her but also to say she’s not alone. In the many years I have known Ali, he has on several occasions crossed boundaries of what is appropriate behaviour between friends,” Ghani wrote.

She elucidated on how Ali’s 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. Comments that would make your skin crawl and make you feel objectified are not to be reduced to ‘a joke’ such behaviours can leave women feeling embarrassed, small and reduced to the level of entertainment at the hands of a woman.

“In such cases, women like myself run from a situation and hope to God you never cross paths again. And when by some misfortune you do, you hide from him. Hoping that 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,” Ghani wrote.

Ghani said Shafi “isn’t and has not been alone”.

“The memories of the times when Ali thought he could get away by saying vulgar things still disgust me,” she added.

A journalist named Maham Javaid described an incident from “many many years ago” when Ali tried to kiss her cousin and pull her into a restroom with him.

The journalist thanked Shafi for “reminding us that our stories matter”.

Blogger Humna Raza also recounted when he inappropriately touched her at a public event.

On Thursday evening, Shafi sparked Pakistan’s #MeToo moment when she took to Twitter to allege Ali had sexually harassed her on more than one occasion. This is the first incident of a Pakistani celebrity speaking out about a colleague.

However, Ali on Thursday denied Shafi’s claim, saying he will take this allegation through the courts of law.

“I am a strong believer that the truth always prevails,” he tweeted.

Although Pakistan’s entertainment industry has remained largely mum on the issue, actor-writer Osman Khalid Butt and model-actress Urwa Hocane have tweeted in support of Shafi, reported Geo News.

Meanwhile, actor Maya Ali posted on Instagram saying she respects Ali and “we shouldn’t judge anyone’s character” until the truth comes out.

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