When Indian singer Shweta Pandit spoke out on Twitter a week ago about the alleged sexual advances composer Anu Malik made towards her when she was 15, she did not expect some netizens to place the blame on her.
In her tweet, which supported an earlier accusation against Malik by singer Sona Mohapatra, Pandit shared a detailed account of the incident from 17 years ago and called Malik a pedophile and a sexual predator.
“Had to go back to my worst memory as a teenage girl today to write this and speak up – its now or never. This is my #MeToo and have to warn young girls about #AnuMalik & let you know your #TimesUp @IndiaMeToo Thank you @sonamohapatra for speaking up about him & supporting this,” she wrote.
While she received encouraging response from many users, some netizens cast doubts on the incident and the timing of her revelation.
“A whole lot of people have supported me but everyone did point questions and fingers just on me after the tweet went out. Not a single question or tweet was tagged to the perpetrator,” Pandit told NextShark in an interview.
“Most ‘men’ who replied had trivialized my story saying it was ‘just a kiss,’ but they have to note my age when it was asked, too. Do they care nothing if a teen was asked for a kiss in a soundproof room with just one man with her when she can’t do anything but feel devastated?”
She then shared that as a young girl, the incident was too much to bear for her and it took her years to recover.
“It felt like someone stabbed me in that room. More so, I must have cried endlessly for months after the incident took place. I could just not deal with it, forget about it and bury it. That took me years because I only kept bringing back that vision,” she revealed.
Pandit also shared how recovery was a challenge since seeking “medical help” or taking any kind of “antidepressants” for her age at that time was unheard of in India.
“I developed ‘trust issues’ with people I worked with. I just couldn’t talk with confidence for the longest time as I constantly felt that “this man could also be like that man,” she added.
According to Pandit, she never shared the incident with anyone including her family out of fear that her passion and dreams would be forced to take a back seat.
“They would have instantly discussed amongst themselves to not let me pursue my career in music. India isn’t a very forward country when it comes to women (at least not in 2001).”
As for her critics, Pandit responded via a tweet saying Indian men are not taking child abuse seriously.
“All these ‘young men’ on Twitter, who keep asking ‘so what happens next’ in a few days of my tweet are forgetting that I kept this in my heart for 17 years. We live in a country that constantly questions ‘only women’ on the silliest of things. We don’t want any more dumb questions,” Pandit wrote.
“Post my tweet I’ve also realized that child abuse is not taken seriously by most men (mindset is totally wrong) in India. ‘Just a peck,’ ‘oh it must be like uncle,’ ‘it must be on cheek’ came across some disturbing mentalities/replies online in India #MeToo Maneka Gandhi.”
She then added that if “you guys are trivializing my experience as a 15-year-old as ‘just a peck’ or no big deal, you need to be slapped by your mother at home and also know that you have the germs of becoming a predator yourself!”