Jami is being taken to court by Sohail Jawed. This piece has been updated to add comments given by Sohail Jawed.
Lahooti Melo is an annual festival that celebrates music, dance, and art. This year’s Melo, however, had a different agenda. The organizers of the festival called it an ‘ode to liberated women’. They did this because they had received a letter by a volunteer from the festival in 2016, who said that she had been sexually assaulted at Lahooti that year.
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SOUND ON 🔊: Lahooti Melo this year was more than just a festival: It was a movement dedicated to women empowerment after one of the volunteers in the previous event got raped by a well-known Pakistani director. A powerful letter from the victim was read at the event which shocked everyone to the core. Lahooti Melo did what other spaces failed to do. And for that brave stance, the organisers deserve all the appreciation in the world. 👏🏽⠀ Video by: @shaharyarhyder ⠀ -⠀ #lahootimelo #lahootimelo2019 @lahootimelo #metoo #womenempowerment #rape
The letter did not name anyone but said that the harasser was part of the festival and a big name in the entertainment industry.
The letter is why the organizers chose to celebrate women and their struggle during this year’s festival.
Pakistani director, Jami read out the letter publicly at Lahooti Melo, which eventually made waves on the internet.
A few days after the festival, Jami shared the letter he read out on social media. Again, this letter names no one but goes into detail about their behavior and their position in entertainment circles. When Jami shared this letter online, a lot of people began to name someone, even tagging them.
The name that came up was Sohail Jawed.
After this, Sohail Jawed’s lawyers sent Jami a legal notice, asking him to take down the post on social media. When Jami refused, a civil case was lodged against him under Section 151 of the Civil Procedure Code.
We spoke to a representative from Lahooti Melo regarding this news. According to them, when Jami was served the initial legal notice, his response was that the letter names no one and that the fact that Sohail Jawed is asking for the post to go down only makes him suspicious of Jawed.
Jami was already working on an awareness program regarding sexual harassment, especially for the entertainment world, so as to empower newcomers. Upon receiving Jawed’s notice, Jami even invited him to join the awareness program.
The representative from Lahooti Melo added that after the festival and Jami’s post, they received 8 more letters from victims, and had numerous girls reach out with their stories as well.
The representative added that these letters are all chillingly similar to the first letter they received. They all describe the same pattern of behavior.
The first hearing for this case was meant to take place last Saturday but due to a continuous strike, it has been pushed up to Friday.
We reached out to Sohail Jawed and asked him to comment on the matter. According to Jawed, the post made by Jami on social media was directed towards him, additionally, people on social media were naming him under Jami’s post. He says that he had asked Jami to pull the post down, however, when he did not comply, he had to pursue the legal route. He ended his comment by giving ‘advice’ to Jami; to not fight this on social media, but in court, like he’s doing.
The key thing to remember here is that the letter named no one in connection with these accusations. It was people online who made a connection between Sohail Jawed and the letter. Jami or Lahooti Melo did not make that connection, so the question here is, why is this case being filed against him at all?
Lahooti Melo made an impact this past February when it went public with the letter. Internationally, the #MeToo movement has changed up a lot of things, especially in the entertainment industry. We can only hope that this movement translates into making Pakistani entertainment a better place for all.
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Cover Photo Courtesy: content.pk and hipinpakistan.com