Former tennis pro Mahesh Bhupathi has voiced his support for survivors of sexual assault and harassment, while urging other prominent persons and celebrities to speak out as well. “As women around the country continue to share their horrific stories, most people in a position of power – influencers, as they’re popularly called – have chosen to stay silent on the matter,” he said in a Twitter post on Friday.
In recent weeks, the country has seen a wave of accusations against men in Bollywood, media and other industries as more and more women have come forward to name alleged harassers and predators. Multiple celebrities have been named, including actor Alok Nath and fillmmakers Sajid Khan and Vikas Bahl.
In the post, Mahesh said that he has had personal and professional relationships with some of the men accused, including Suhel Seth, Vikas Behl, Anirban Blah, Chetan Bhagat, Sajid Khan and Anu Malik. “That ends today on all accounts.”
Mahesh Bhupathi, who is married to actress Lara Dutta, said Lara recently received an offer from a “leading international digital platform” through Mukesh Chhabra’s company. Mukesh Chhabra, a casting director, was recently accused of sexual harassment, and was suspended as director of Kizzie aur Manny. “Later, Lara got in touch with the digital platform and told them she wouldn’t accept work through this company specifically.”
“I think she did the right thing. I’m not sure it’s enough, though,” he said on Twitter.
Bhupathi said that he was guilty of remaining silent until now, but he would no longer ignore the stories of women who have been preyed on.
He added that Suhel Seth, who has been accused by multiple women of sexual misconduct, has been associated with “every famous and powerful person in the country, yet no one has felt the need to say anything about his behaviour.”
“To all those who are in a position of influence through their massive social platforms, I have a simple appeal: Stop engaging. Alienate these ‘serial predators.’ Show them that while the law and investigative agencies will take their course, society should -- and will -- reject them. The stance needs to be crystal clear -- guilty unless proven innocent,” he wrote.