Hours after veteran choreographer Saroj Khan created outrage by defending the casting couch culture in Bollywood, Congress leader Renuka Chowdhury on Tuesday said the casting couch was the “bitter truth” of all work spaces and even Parliament was not immune to it.
“It’s the bitter truth. It is not just in the film industry. This happens everywhere in work spaces. Don’t imagine that Parliament is immune or some other work space is immune. If you look at the western world today, established top actresses took so long to come out and say ‘me too’. It’s time India stood up and said ‘me too’,” the former Rajya Sabha MP said.
The #MeToo campaign, which calls out sexual offenders, began in Hollywood last year and triggered a global movement against sexual abuse. Khan, the choreographer of songs like Ek Do Teen and Choli Ke Peechhay, had justified the exchange of sexual favours for work saying, “This has been happening since time immemorial. People try to get cozy with every girl. Even people in the government do it. Why are you after the film industry? At least the industry provides employment. It isn’t that you are raped and abandoned. (Yeh chala aa raha hai baba aadam ke zamaane se. Har ladki ke upar koi na koi haath saaf karne ki koshish karta hai. Government ke log bhi karte hain. Tum film industry ke peechhe kyun pade ho? Woh kam se kam roti toh deti hai. Rape karke chhod toh nahi deti).”
She later apologised “I am sorry. But you don’t know the question that was asked... And now there’s so much ruckus.”