Amid confusion and misinformation surrounding the Meesha Shafi defamation case, ProperGaanda was contacted by Shafi’s legal team with the first witness statement in the trial
Meesha first came out with her #metoo story in April, 2018. Since then, Meesha Shafi and Ali Zafar have taken the case to court multiple times, with the most recent development being the Rs 2 billion damages suit that was filed against Zafar for false allegations against her online.
Now, Meesha Shafi’s first witness has testified in court on Tuesday, October 29 2019 in the aforementioned defamation case. Ms. Saba Hameed appeared as a defendant because of her relationship with the case (Ms. Hameed is Shafi’s mother).
Ms. Hameed described when Ms. Meesha Shafi told her about the sexual harassment she has experienced, stating that her daughter informed her of the incident of harassment 10-15 days prior to going public. She recalled that her daughter told to her “I am never going to put myself in this position ever again” in reference to the incident of harassment. Meesha had described the mixed feelings of guilt and shame which stopped her from coming forward after the first incident.
Ms. Hameed told the court that it was only after experiencing a pattern of behaviour from Mr. Zafar did her daughter feel compelled to come out or even mention the incidents of sexual harassment to anyone.
She also recounted her own sexual harassment incidents working within the entertainment industry and said that she understands why her daughter did not mention the experiences she went through as she never told her own mother.
When asked why she thought women don’t come forward with their experiences, she stated that women are reluctant because of the fear and embarrassment that women are subjected to from society. Ms. Saba also added that the women of her generation could never disclose the fact of being sexually harassed since they only blamed themselves, however she felt that “things are changing now and the present generations of working women are realising that it is not their fault if they are being sexually harassed”.
“I believe that Meesha did the right thing by speaking up because it was in the public interest to do so.” – Ms. Saba Hameed
Ms. Hameed alleged that several women have still not come forward against Mr. Zafar and she could not reveal the names of all the women for reasons of privacy. When asked why they don’t want to come forward, Ms. Saba Hameed said that victims who share their experiences and name their harassers are labelled as trouble makers in the industry and end up losing work.
Ms. Saba Hameed stated that her daughter had tapped into all avenues to resolve the situation but was unsuccessful and only then did she take the step to go public via Twitter, telling the court that Ms. Shafi had nothing to gain from going public with her experience and only faced backlash, humiliation–emotionally, socially and financially.
“Meesha is perceived to be an empowered woman but it is true that even the bravest the women experience fear of repercussions,” said Ms. Hameed.
Meanwhile, Ali Zafar is yet to file a reply to Shafi’s Rs 2 billion defamation case; so far, his counsel has requested the judge to stay Meesha’s defamation on the basis that Zafar’s defamation suit be decided first.
Read more from ProperGaanda: How Did The Meesha Shafi And Ali Zafar Case Start?