Defamation Case An Intimidation Tactic To Silence Me, Meesha Shafi Tells Court
Singer Meesha Shafi, recorded her statement in the defamation case filed by fellow singer Ali Zafar at the Session Court today. Meesha told the court that she is a happily married family woman and she never wanted to go public with the allegations. However, she told court that she had no choice but to go public when it became clear that she might have to work with singer Ali Zafar despite having told her employers that he had harassed her multiple times. Meesha told the court that she has the right to a dignified workplace and an environment free from harassment.
Meesha told the court that she tried her best to resolve the matter internally without going public. She explained that prior to her tweet, she spoke with Ali Zafar’s managers and told them about the past incidents of harassment stating clearly that she is not ready to work with him. In her detailed statement at the court, Meesha also told the court that her public tweet was not part of a larger plan or conspiracy, rather as a last resort when all other channels of resolution failed.
Meesha told the court that the first incident of sexual harassment happened at the house of the father in law of the plaintiff, where Ali Zafar groped her as he greeted her as she entered the gathering. ‘There were other people in the room but they were all in front of us. There was a wall and a counter behind us and there was no nobody behind us’. She narrated. ‘I got very embarrassed. I was shocked.’ She told the court that she immediately told her husband about the incident who got very angry and wanted to confront the plaintiff right there and then. However, she stopped her husband from doing so as she feared it may have led to a scene as both her and Ali Zafar were public figures.
She told the court that she continued meeting Ali Zafar and his wife on social occasions and decided she would try to forgive and forget. She told the court that she also never told Ali Zafar’s wife about it out of respect for.
Meesha told the court that the second incident of sexual harassment took place at a birthday party at Ali Zafar’s house. After the second incident, the interactions with Ali Zafar and his family were drastically reduced.
The third incident, according to Meesha, was in a jamming room at the plaintiff’s house as part of rehearsals for a contractual obligation, where the plaintiff groped her at her place of work. Meesha said that after the third incident, she had decided never to work the plaintiff again.
At the time of the Pepsi battle of bands project, Meesha revealed that Ali Zafar’s manager asked her if she was willing to consider an apology from Ali Zafar to resolve the issue. She said that, however, Ali Zafar never apologised and he instead denied all the incidents. Meesha also dispelled the allegations that there was some sort of conspiracy to defame Ali Zafar. She clarified that the women who spoke and shared similar experiences of sexual harassment from the plaintiff were not known to her previously and she did not contact anyone to make allegations against Ali Zafar.
Meesha told the court that in the aftermath of going public with her experience, she was got slandered, maligned and attacked to the extent that she had to stop going online.
Meesha also revealed other women from the industry reached out to her immediately after she went public with the allegations to share their own experiences of his predatory behaviour. She repeated that she did not reach out to other women, in fact, they sought her out organically.
In her concluding remarks, she said “I am the one who suffered such loses and defamed and as a woman I suffered great reputational damage and financial loss… my tweet is sharing a true experience and is not a defamatory statement. When I realized how difficult it is to face sexual harassment, I shared my experience to protect myself and others who are struggling to break their silence.”