A writer based in New Delhi broke her silence on the recent rape accusations on Bollywood filmmaker Mahmood Farooqui. The writer named Rama Lakshmi, who knows both the director and the victim from America, took to Facebook on Monday evening and ‘broke her silence after a year’ on the matter.
Lakshmi has known Farooqui for five to six years, having worked with him for story-telling sessions and guest-editing his essays. She describes him as an ‘intellectually sharp man and a creative powerhouse’. At the same time, Lakshmi has known the 35-year-old American Fullbright researcher who accused Farooqui of sexually assaulting her.
Based on the victim’s account, the assault took place at Farooqui’s residence in March 2015. Lakshmi wrote that she met with the victim two days after the incident. “In her narration to me, there was a lot of shock and disbelief over what he had done to her. She wrote an email to him telling him what he did to her was wrong, and that he should know he cannot go through life doing this to other women,” she wrote. Farooqui had responded with a short apology, she added.
Soon after, the victim moved back to the US but was not able to recover from the incident. After filing a complaint, Farooqui was arrested on 22 July, 2015. Charges against him were framed on 9 September, under Section 376 of Indian Penal Code. The director was granted regular bail for his “good conduct” on January 26, 2016. He had earlier been given interim bail.
In her post, Lakshmi explains why she stayed silent all this time. “It is not always easy when you have known and trusted the perpetrator. It is easier to rush to the police station when it is a cab driver, or bus driver or stranger lurking in the shadows of the street. But when you know the assaulter, you go through several stages of coming to terms with it – shock, hurt, anger, loathing, self-questioning, shattered trust and so on,” she wrote, revealing that the victim was afraid of getting victim-shamed, a phenomenon oft practiced.
The victim was shunned by mutual friends soon after the complaint was filed. Several of their friends tried convincing her to drop the case as Farooqui was considered a respectable figure among various intellectual circles. “Her impulse behind filing the FIR was simple – she had to act. Silence was not a choice,” wrote Lakshmi, pointing out the cynicism in society.
Thus far, Farooqui’s sentence will be decided on 2 August. If convicted, the punishment entails a minimum seven years of rigorous imprisonment and a maximum punishment of imprisonment for life. The victim, Lakshmi reveals, was not out to get revenge but to not let Mahmood Farooqui’s act rob “her of her idea of who she is”.
Feature Image Courtesy: The Hindu