New Delhi, Oct 12 (AP/UNB) — Indian actresses and writers are flooding social media with allegations of sexual harassment and assault, releasing pent-up frustration with a law that was lauded internationally but that critics say has done little to change the status quo in the world's largest democracy.
"People using social media to articulate their complaints should be recognized in the context of failure. The system has in effect failed us, has failed women," T.K. Rajalakshmi, the president of the Indian Women's Press Corps, said in a panel discussion Thursday in New Delhi.
The Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace Act of 2013 holds Indian workplaces liable for sexual harassment, and prescribes a system for investigating and redressing complaints. Employers must create committees that are at least 50 percent women, presided over by a woman and with one external expert, to process complaints. The law builds on the landmark 1997 Vishakha case, in which India's Supreme Court held that sexual harassment at work violated a woman's constitutional right to equality.
But nearly five years since the law came into effect, many managers and employees are not aware of it. Those who are rarely implement it fully, in part because of the enormous taboo in India of discussing anything related to sex, said Naina Kapur, the attorney who argued the Vishakha case before the Supreme Court.
"Every time I get a call it's after the event has happened. It's supposed to be effectively communicated and it hasn't been," Kapur said, adding that in India, "as women get more into the marketplace and the workplace, their experience of sex harassment and violence is a growing area of concern but it's not being heard."
Based on the nonstop TV coverage, alleged victims are making themselves heard on social media, bypassing completely the protocol created by the 2013 law.
The social media storm began in September, when former Bollywood actress Tanushree Dutta spoke to several Indian TV news channels about her frustration with a fruitless police complaint she filed in 2008 against actor Nana Patekar for alleged sexual harassment on a Mumbai movie set.
Dutta said that after Patekar groped her during a dance routine, she fled the set and a mob surrounded her car, smashed the windshield and trapped her inside.
Patekar has denied the allegations.
Then on Oct. 4, Mumbai comedy group AIB announced it had decided to de-list every video featuring former member Utsav Chakraborty, whom women had taken to social media to condemn for alleged sexual harassment.
On Oct. 7, an unnamed former employee at Phantom Films writing in the Huffington Post described allegations she had made in 2015 against one of the company's partners, director Vikas Bahl, whom she said behaved inappropriately during a trip to Goa.
The following day, company partners Anurag Kashyap and Vikramaditya Motwane dissolved Phantom Films. Bahl has filed an intent to sue his former partners for defamation.
Also on Oct. 8, journalist Sandhya Menon shared screenshots of her conversation with two women claiming that actor Rajat Kapoor harassed them over the phone.
Kapoor apologized on Twitter if he had "slipped and through my actions or words caused pain or hurt."
That same day, former TV producer, director and writer Vinta Nanda said on Facebook and in TV interviews that she was raped 19 years ago by actor Alok Nath.
Nath said in a TV interview that he neither denied or agreed with the allegations. "It must have happened, but someone else would have done it," Nath said.
TV actress Sandy Mridul expressed her support for Nanda in a tweet. Fellow TV actress Deepika Amin followed on Twitter: "Everyone in the industry knows that #AlokNath is an obnoxious drunkard who harasses women."
On Oct. 10, actor and heavyweight Bollywood producer Aamir Khan and his wife Kiran Rao put out a statement saying they were "committed to doing any and everything to make our film industry a safe and happy one to work in." In a tweet, Khan said they were about to begin work with someone who had been accused of sexual misconduct and that the matter was pending in court.
Perhaps the most startling development has been the string of accusations against Junior External Affairs Minister M.J. Akbar. In less than a week, at least nine women journalists have accused Akbar of sexual harassment and inappropriate behavior when he was a newspaper editor in Kolkata and Delhi. Neither Akbar nor the ministry has responded.
But for India's burgeoning #MeToo movement to take hold in the broader strata of Indian society, the 2013 sex harassment law must be implemented more broadly, said Sunieta Ojha, a lawyer who regularly conducts workshops on the law.
"It requires a complete change of attitude toward women and toward workplace ethics. Employers instead of looking at it as a hassle, they have to see it as an investment. If they start doing that, it starts to have a very positive effect," she said.
Mumbai police on Thursday said they had opened an investigation into Patekar after Dutta filed a fresh complaint, charging him with violating two sections of the Indian Penal Code related to offending a woman's modesty. If found guilty, the maximum penalty is two years in prison.
Dutta said that after the alleged attack in 2008, she also lodged a complaint with Cine and TV Artists Association (CINTAA), an agency now subject to the 2013 law.
Dutta's lawyer, Nitin Satpute, said Dutta decided to speak out again about what allegedly happened to her in 2008 because she hoped the spotlight would help enforce the workplace sex harassment law within CINTAA.
"Some are rich, some are poor, but many women are working there, and it will benefit all," Satpute said.
Dhaka, Oct 11 (UNB) - Six people, including Impress Telefilm’s Managing Director Faridur Reza, escaped unhurt as a helicopter of Impress Aviation Ltd crashed in Godagari uapzila of Rajshahi on Thursday.
Channel I director Shykh Seraj told UNB that the accident occurred when a team was returning to Dhaka after shooting of a ‘Sarnakishori’ programme for the channel in the afternoon.
The helicopter crashed into the land due to inclement weather caused by Cyclone Titli, he said.
However, members of the team are now returning to Dhaka by a flight of Novoair, he added.
Hackensack, Oct 11 (AP/UNB) — A grand jury in New Jersey has indicted rapper Fabolous on counts of domestic violence and making terroristic threats.
The rapper, whose real name is John Jackson, was charged in connection with two alleged incidents in Englewood in March.
The indictment handed up last week in Bergen County charges him with one count of domestic violence stemming from an incident on March 7. He's charged with two counts for allegedly threatening to shoot or kill three individuals on March 28, including the alleged victim from the earlier incident.
He also faces a weapons count for allegedly brandishing a pair of scissors with intent to use them unlawfully.
Each of the four third-degree crimes carries a maximum sentence of five years.
Jackson's attorney didn't immediately return a message seeking comment.
Los Angeles, Oct 10 (AP/UNB) - Taylor Swift kicked off her week with a rare political post on social media, and at the American Music Awards she continued the conversation by encouraging fans to vote in the upcoming midterm elections.
Swift won artist of the year at the fan-voted show on Tuesday in Los Angeles, beating out Drake, Ed Sheeran, Imagine Dragons and Post Malone for the top prize.
"This award and every single award given out tonight were voted on by the people, and you know what else is voted on by the people," she said, "the midterm elections on November 6."
Swift announced on Sunday that she was voting for Tennessee's Democratic Senate candidate Phil Bredesen, breaking her long-standing refusal to discuss anything politics.
Voting was a hot topic at the AMAs. Host and Golden Globe-winning "black-ish" actress Tracee Ellis Ross wore a shirt that said, "I am a voter," and comedian-actor Billy Eichner told the audience, "The biggest election of our lifetime is happening."
"Please grab your friends and tell them to vote. Now is the time. If you believe in equality for women, for people of color, for the LGBTQ community. If you believe that climate change is real and that we need to do something about it," he said onstage before presenting an award.
"And you can go to Vote.org like Taylor Swift told you to," he added.
Swift kicked off the AMAs with a performance of "I Did Something Bad," while Cardi B picked up the night's first award, favorite hip-hop/rap artist, which she dedicated to her daughter.
"I really want to thank my daughter," said Cardi B, who gave birth to Kulture Kiari Cephus in July. "I gotta prove people wrong. They said I wasn't going to make it after I had a baby."
The rapper hit the stage to give a festive and colorful performance of her No. 1 hit, "I Like It," where she was joined by J Balvin and Bad Bunny, who was wheeled onstage inside a shopping cart. Cardi B's husband, Offset of the rap trio Migos, danced along in the audience with group member Quavo as Cardi B worked the stage with vibrant dance moves, including the salsa.
Cardi B returned the favor, screaming happily when Migos was named favorite pop/rock duo or group, beating out Maroon 5 and Imagine Dragons, later in the show.
"We did not know we was winning this at all," said Quavo, also giving a shout-out to group member Takeoff, who didn't attend the AMAs.
"I want to thank you sexy lady," Offset said, pointing to Cardi B.
Like Cardi B's performance, rising newcomer Ella Mai also won over the crowd when she sang the year's biggest R&B hit, "Boo'd Up," starting the performance as she walked down the aisle of the Microsoft Theater. Khalid, Quavo and Offset were some of the audience members dancing along, while others sang and some even filmed her with their phones.
Others who shined onstage included R&B singer Ciara, who showed off her skilled dance moves and was joined by a fierce Missy Elliott. Carrie Underwood was in perfect form vocally, and Camila Cabello — who won new artist of the year — gave a heartful, touching and vocally impressive performance of the ballad "Consequences," earning her a standing ovation.
The three-hour show closed with a rousing tribute to Aretha Franklin, who died in August. Gladys Knight, Ledisi, Mary Mary, Donnie McClurkin and CeCe Winans were among the musicians who paid tribute to the Queen of Soul's gospel roots and her iconic album, "Amazing Grace."
Rapper-singer XXXTentacion, who was fatally shot in June, was also honored: He won favorite soul/R&B album for his 2017 debut, "17." It was days after he was named best new artist at the BET Hip-Hop Awards.
His mother, Cleopatra Bernard, said she was honored to accept the award on behalf of her son. "I'm so nervous," Bernard said as the audience cheered her on.
Post Malone, who wore a baby blue suit and performed, won favorite pop/rock male artist, Underwood was named favorite country female artist, Khalid picked up favorite soul/R&B male artist, and Kane Brown won favorite country male artist.
Other performers included Mariah Carey, Jennifer Lopez, Shawn Mendes and twenty one pilots.
Albuquerque, Oct 9 (AP/UNB) — Netflix has chosen New Mexico as the site of a new U.S. production hub and is in final negotiations to buy an existing multimillion-dollar studio complex on the edge of the state's largest city, government and corporate leaders announced Monday.
It's the company's first purchase of such a property, and upcoming production work in Albuquerque and at other spots around New Mexico is forecast to result in $1 billion in spending over the next decade.
More than $14 million in state and local economic development funding is being tapped to bring Netflix to New Mexico. Republican Gov. Susana Martinez and Albuquerque Mayor Tim Keller, a Democrat, touted the investment and said lengthy efforts to put New Mexico on the movie-making map are paying off.
"This is awesome," the governor told dozens of people gathered inside a cavernous sound stage at ABQ Studios. "This massive investment will have a huge impact of course on New Mexico and continue our efforts to grow and diversify the economy."
Martinez acknowledged the state's reliance on federal funding and oil and gas development, saying more needs to be done to encourage diverse ventures such as Netflix as the private sector is the backbone of the American economy.
Keller said the city has laid the groundwork to make sure the film industry is part of its economic development plan. He called landing Netflix a "transformative victory" for the city.
Netflix projects produced in New Mexico include the Emmy Award-winning limited series "Godless" and "Longmire." Company officials said previous experience working in the state inspired them to jump at the opportunity to establish a new production hub in Albuquerque.
Netflix earlier this year announced it was establishing its first European production hub in Spain. That operation is expected to help the online video entertainment platform expand its Spanish-language content.
It also has a production hub in Los Angeles and it's possible the company's footprint will continue to expand, given the amount of content the online entertainment provider is aiming to create.
"We will look at each place on its merits — the same kind of decision-making that went into the impending purchase of this studio," said Ty Warren, Netflix's vice president for physical production. "The combination of great crews, existing infrastructure, financial incentives — it was all part of it."
Netflix has about 130 million subscribers worldwide.
Officials did not release details about the sales price of the studio complex in New Mexico. The property includes several sound stages, production offices, mill space and a back lot.
Martinez, whose second and final term ends this year, initially talked about trying to rein in New Mexico's film incentive program and an annual $50 million cap was instituted.
As the state dug its way out of the recession, she said it was important to avoid cuts to critical programs such as education, health care and public infrastructure. She was criticized by many who thought the cap would stifle the growth of the film industry.
In 2013, she signed the "Breaking Bad bill," named after the Emmy-winning TV drama that filmed primarily in Albuquerque during its five seasons. The legislation enhanced incentives for television productions.
Martinez said the industry has since marked three consecutive record-breaking years in New Mexico and it is lining up to be another monumental year.
The industry has drawn more in-state direct spending from film and TV productions each year since 2014, topping out at $505 million last fiscal year, according to the state film office.