On sexual harassment

On 19th April 2018, Meesha Shafi, a well-established Pakistani musician and actress, broke the silence on facing sexual harassment at the hands of her colleague, Ali Zafar. Since then, other accounts have also come forward, namely, Leena Ghani and Humna Raza. Troublingly, what we have seen in the following weeks are the victims being blamed, their voices discredited, while counter narratives are forged, favouring the perpetrator.

As artists, writers, and cultural practitioners, we stand with Meesha Shafi, and all other survivors of sexual harassment that have come forward, or are yet to be vocal about their trauma. Furthermore, in this letter, we reject the larger system of patriarchy which holds the reputation of an abuser above the well-being of the survivor, perpetuating a culture of silence around sexual harassment and abuse, and systematically reprimanding those that do come forward.

As with the film industry, the art world in Pakistan too is structured by sexism and misogyny. For many, the art school and art galleries are experienced as predatory spaces of exploitation, sexual harassment and abuse. Those in positions of power and authority – be they well established artists, curators, collectors or art school professors/mentors – routinely prey on vulnerable students and emerging artists. When survivors do find the courage to speak up and report instances of sexual harassment, their complaints are often not taken seriously and are summarily dismissed.

Some art schools have recently organized seminars on sexual harassment. While this is a first step in the right direction, we demand institutions to take a more direct stance against sexual harassment by standing with survivors and holding those in positions of power accountable. It is important that institutes follow up these initial dialogues with concrete steps such as instituting / enforcing sexual harassment policies that can lead to the creation of safer spaces. Nothing short of that is acceptable.

In Meesha Shafi’s case, many people, including members of the arts community, have been quick to delegitimize the validity of sexual harassment claims by accusing the victim of using such stories to ‘advance’ their career and questioning the time it took to report the incident, to mention just a few examples. There are also those who suggest that the career choice of being in the entertainment industry is in itself an open invitation for men to sexually exploit women. These are all gender-biased, archaic, and irrelevant allegations that only serve the purpose of exonerating harassers of any accountability or responsibility for their actions.

Sexual harassment is traumatic, and it takes a great deal of courage to speak up about it, especially by those under the scrutiny of the public eye. Processing this on a psychological level, while measuring the further consequences of speaking up on their career, character, as well as family, is often what results in many victims never coming forward. Though laws exist, such as The Protection of Women Against Harassment at the Workplace Act of 2010, we find, more often than not, such clauses further aide the accused and the system to silence the voice of the victim / survivor. Moreover, the law is unclear or absent when concerning sexual harassment in social settings – in particular affecting artists for whom there is a blur between ‘work’ and ‘social’ due to the field lacking a formal structure in the country.

Listening to survivors, and believing them unconditionally, is a crucial part of the process of individual and collective healing and justice. It is also the only way to face up to the magnitude of sexual harassment in our communities. We believe it is imperative to re-evaluate the current approach towards what we consider ‘evidence’ of such incidents. It is critical that we allow each of these stories to come forward, without judgement, so that patterns of sexual harassment as endemic can be recognized, and the law on this issue subsequently broadened.

Urdu statement-1#metoo #timesup

  1. Natasha Malik, visual artist, educator
  2. Abdullah Qureshi, visual artist, researcher, cultural producer
  3. Anushka Musa, visual artist, educator
  4. Amra Khan, visual artist, educator
  5. Faraz Aamer Khan, visual artist, educator
  6. Sarah N. Ahmad, urbanist, public programmer, rights activist
  7. Natasha Jozi, visual artist, educator
  8. Saba Khan, visual artist, educator
  9. Ayesha Nadeem, lawyer, cultural practitioner, activist
  10. Zara Asgher, visual artist, educator
  11. Aziz Sohail, writer, curator
  12. Ayesha Jatoi, visual artist
  13. Saher Sohail, educator
  14. Farida Batool, visual artist, educator
  15. Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, performance artist, visual artist, organizer
  16. Sahyr Sayed, visual artist
  17. Shahana Rajani, visual artist
  18. Zahra Malkani, visual artist
  19. Fazal Rizvi, visual artist
  20. Veera Rustomji, visual artist, writer
  21. Elham Rahmati, visual artist
  22. Vidha Saumya, visual artist
  23. Ali Akbar Mehta, visual artist
  24. Uzair Amjad, visual artist
  25. Yaminay Chaudhri, visual artist
  26. Shayan Rajani, writer, educator
  27. Fiza Khatri, visual artist
  28. Maha Minhaj, visual artist
  29. Zahrah Ehsan, visual artist, educator
  30. Vidisha S. Fadescha, artist, curator
  31. Farazeh Syed, visual artist
  32. Sara Khan, visual artist
  33. Nour Aslam, art manager, curator
  34. Hajra Haider Karrar, curator, writer
  35. Shumita Didi Sandhu, filmmaker, cultural activist
  36. Naira Mushtaq, visual artist, educator
  37. Ferwa Ibrahim, visual artist, educator
  38. Marcel Shawld, theatre practitioner
  39. Simone Buesch-Kueng, art historian
  40. Efa Mühlethaler, visual artist
  41. Mohsin Sayeed, concerned citizen, social / cultural commentator
  42. Zahra Khan, curator
  43. Leena Ghani, visual artist, activist
  44. Maheen Khan, fashion designer
  45. Nurjehan Mawaz-Khan, architect
  46. Asif Akhtar, writer
  47. Amna Shah Asad, interior designer
  48. Eman Faiz, design strategist 
  49. Faris Shafi, musician, actor
  50. Anam Bhatti, visual artist, community worker
  51. Anbrin Qureshi, art manager, concerned citizen
  52. Kami Sid, fashion model, actress, trans activist
  53. Muhammad Ali, multi-disciplinary visual artist, performance artist
  54. Sruthi Ravi, architect
  55. Nida Khan, artist, educator, mother to a young girl
  56. Andleeb Rana, journalist
  57. Zohra Rahman, designer 
  58. Hena Ali Naeem Khan, design researcher, educator
  59. Mehreen Murtaza, multidisciplinary artist
  60. Waqas Khan, visual artist
  61. Raza Rumi, writer, journalist, educator
  62. Saim Sadiq, filmmaker
  63. Sahar Shafqat, educator, writer
  64. Urooj Arshad, activist, educator
  65. Raja Changez Sultan, visual artist
  66. Zaineb Najeeb, fine artist
  67. Hiba Sadia, architect
  68. Madyha Leghari, visual artist
  69. Mahnoor Malik, visual artist
  70. Zurain Z. Imam, entertainment, fashion & lifestyle writer
  71. Khadija Rahman, designer
  72. Samar Raza, architect
  73. Tahira Noreen, visual artist
  74. Musa Jadoon, architect, educator
  75. Nabah Ali, architect, educator
  76. Khadijah Shah, fashion designer
  77. Rehan Bashir, fashion designer, classical dancer
  78. Anushay Malik, writer, researcher
  79. Numair A. Abbasi, visual artist, writer, educator
  80. Amal Uppal, artist, illustrator
  81. Sydra Junaid, educator, writer
  82. Zohra Latif, architect
  83. Tanya Warnakulasuriya, writer
  84. Andrea Saemann, performance artist
  85. Azanat Mansoor, visual artist, educator
  86. Bina Shah, writer
  87. Kamil Ahsan, writer, doctoral student
  88. Mariam Zaeem, interior & furniture designer
  89. Myda Raza, fashion model
  90. Aysha Raja, indie bookseller
  91. Huma Hamid Faiz, painter
  92. Zoha Khan, visual artist
  93. Maryam Hussain, visual artist, educator
  94. Reham Sharbaji, cultural practitioner
  95. Fahad Naveed, visual artist, journalist, filmmaker
  96. Vivek Mansukhani, theatre director, actor
  97. Nudrrat Khawaja, media & communications professional
  98. Eeshita Asad, arts facilitator, poet
  99. Mahwash Ajaz, writer
  100. Olivia Jaques, artist, cultural worker, curator
  101. Shoghakat Mlké-Galstyan, dancer, actress, cultural manager, lecturer
  102. Sumbul Khan, arts for development practitioner
  103. Hajra Haq, marketing manager
  104. Shehzil Malik, designer, illustrator
  105. Omar Kasmani, cultural anthropologist
  106. Ahmer Naqvi, digital media professional
  107. Aziza Ahmad, graphic designer, illustrator
  108. Minhal Sadiq, furniture designer
  109. Mona Mudasir, writer, blogger
  110. Sabahat Zehra, former cultural manager, art history grad student
  111. Zaibinda Aqib, media student
  112. Zehra Nasir, marketing associate
  113. Hnin Ei Hlaing (Snow), filmmaker
  114. Dr. Safieh Shah, researcher, writer, humanitarian
  115. Sophia Balagamwala, visual artist
  116. Annie Kilde Bajwa, film festival coordinator
  117. Khazina Siddiqui, marketing student, writer
  118. Sarah Kazmi, artist, researcher
  119. Sameer R. Shami, filmmaker, musician
  120. Hirra Anjum, PhD scholar
  121. Misbah Uddin, musician, music producer
  122. Iva Sanjek, cultural worker
  123. Mara Züst, artist, art historian
  124. Samita Qureshi, painter
  125. Marria Khan, artist, illustrator
  126. Khuram Javed, creative & art director, electronic music producer, multimedia artist
  127. Hija Kamran, C4D Specialist, researcher
  128. Faisal Yaqoob, academic
  129. Ushna Shah, actor
  130. Amira Mahmood, academic, visual artist
  131. Tanya Sani, artist, curator, director
  132. Rabia Hassan, visual artist, filmmaker
  133. Saba Hamid, actor
  134. Sohail Abdullah, visual artist
  135. Sahar Ansari, printmaker, illustrator
  136. Marvi Mazhar, architect
  137. Hira Khan, visual artist
  138. Arooj Aftab, music composer, performer
  139. Reem Khurshid, illustrator, writer, editor
  140. Farwa Hassan, visual artist, actor
  141. Mariah Lookman, artist, historian, occassional curator
  142. Nisma Chauhan, journalist
  143. Nudrat Kamal, educator, writer
  144. Mahak Jiwani, filmmaker
  145. Muneera Batool, student of theatre & interdisciplinary digital media & performance
  146. Haider Ali Akmal, visual artist, design researcher
  147. Nur Ibrahim, writer, TV producer
  148. Uzair Ibrahim, writer
  149. Amna Mawaz Khan, dancer, choreographer
  150. Angeline Malik, actor, producer, director
  151. Frieha Altaf, CEO catwalk event management and productions
  152. Meher Mumtaz, brand strategist
  153. Faraz Chandio, journalist, social worker
  154. Mariyam Nizam, heritage architect
  155. Umer Khan, teacher, musician
  156. Seyhr Jalil, visual artist, educator, art writer
  157. Iftikhar Dadi, art historian
  158. Umer Butt, grey noise
  159. Yusra Amjad, writer, school teacher
  160. Mehrunnisa Khan, designer
  161. Ayesha Ali, fine art student
  162. Maleeha Chaudhry, creative director, daaman
  163. Adnan Haider, TV anchor, actor, journalist
  164. Razia Sadik, researcher, educator
  165. Sabyn Javeri, author
  166. Amna Suheyl, visual artist, educator
  167. Maha Ahmed, artist
  168. Juju Haider, stylist
  169. Sana Zulfiqar, architect, photographer
  170. Bakhtawar Mazhar, theatre practitioner
  171. Mehreen Hashmi, curator
  172. Zarmina Rafi, writer
  173. Saira Ansari, researcher, writer
  174. Mithu Sen, visual & performance artist, poet
  175. Omar Wasim, artist
  176. Waleed Zafar, visual artist, educator
  177. Azka Shahid, writer, editor
  178. Sanem Maher, journalist
  179. Eeman Khan, visual artist, production designer
  180. Ali Zaidi, artist, healer
  181. Nisha Hassan, visual artist
  182. Aima Yusaf, interior architect, educator
  183. M. Imran Khan, photographer, marketing consultant, farmer
  184. Hera Naguib, poet, educator
  185. Tahira Noreen, visual artist, educator
  186. Kishwari Kiani, visual artist, educator
  187. Shandana Minhas, writer
  188. Natasha Maqsood, creative director
  189. Laila Rahman, visual artist, educator
  190. Asma Abbas, academic, educator
  191. Adnan Madani, artist, writer
  192. Mira Sethi, actor, writer
  193. Xaneb Saddozai, architect
  194. Masshal Saif, architect, designer
  195. Yusra Alvi, architect, designer
  196. Arfa Khan, architect, illustrator
  197. Sarwat Gilani Mirza, artist, entrepreneur
  198. Purva Mehak Dhoot, creative director
  199. Faryal Ahsan, visual artist, writer, art director
  200. Fawad Khan, theatre practitioner
  201. Nadia Malik, fashion model
  202. Hurmat ul Ain, visual & performance artist, educationist
  203. Sofia Sabbina Malik, visual artist, Reiki master
  204. Gulraiz Khan, lecturer
  205. Naila Mahmood, visual artist
  206. Umer Khan, musician, lecturer
  207. Fazeelat Aslam, director, journalist
  208. Mehek Saeed, fashion journalist, stylist
  209. Hamza Bokhari, fashion designer
  210. Mamoona Riaz, visual artist, educator
  211. Kanza Bano, architect
  212. Zara Mahmood, artist, educator
  213. Farsam Zafar, visual artist
  214. Abdul Rehman, Artist, Aesthete
  215. Jamal Rahman, Music Producer
  216. Suleman Aqeel Khilji, visual artist
  217. Bushra Amir, painter
  218. Iffat Omar, actor
  219. Karen David, visual artist, actor
  220. Alyzay Sultan Ali, teacher, filmmaker
  221. Haris Alam Khan, architect
  222. Janevi Faiz, visual consultant
  223. Lala Irfan, designer
  224. Nadia Fazal Jamil, actor
  225. Rohail Qasim, fashion model, paediatric surgeon
  226. Marya Javed, writer, filmmaker
  227. Mavra Ghaznavi, activist, comedienne, lawyer, development consultant
  228. Abi Tariq, artist
  229. Arsalan Ihsan, oxford alumnus, model
  230. Ayesha Omar, actor, host, singer, artist
  231. Bibi Hajra Cheema, architect, cartoonist
  232. Nandini Muthuswamy, musician
  233. Maheen Taseer, designer
  234. Purniya Awan, women’s rights activist, feminist blogger, publicist
  235. Zahra Hidayatullah, lifestyle journalist
  236. Hareem Shairani, visual artist, art teacher
  237. Zara Peerzada, model
  238. Noormah Jamal, visual artist, educator, illustrator
  239. Salar Faiz, interpretive dancer
  240. Zeresh John, editor
  241. Haider Maqsood, lifestyle journalist
  242. Eman Suleman, model, student
  243. Tabish Habib, filmmaker 
  244. Naveed Amjad, designer, filmmaker
  245. Babar Suleman, artist, educator
  246. Shan Iman, music producer
  247. Rabeea Arif, graphic designer, educator
  248. Asmaa Mumtaz, style director, makeup artist, visual artist
  249. Jamil Rizvi, mixed martial artist, kickboxing instructor
  250. Aisha Abid Hussain, visual artist, art educator
  251. Rabbiya Abdullah, entrepreneur, visual artist
  252. Saba Eitizaz, journalist
  253. Mohammad Moiz Ali, fashion marketer, fashion influencer
  254. Aqsa Shakil, artist, professor
  255. Lubna Sami, interior designer, promoter of art & culture, human rights activist
  256. Sameen Khan, journalist, writer
  257. Mahmood Rahman, musician
  258. Usman Latif, sound therapist, frequency healer, Tibetan Gong & classical musician
  259. Hassan Javid, academic, columnist
  260. Mehek Raza Rizvi, fashion & lifestyle journalist
  261. Muhammad, photographer
  262. Faizan Yousaf, documentary filmmaker, journalist, overall hopeless romantic
  263. Omayr Waqar, hairstylist, makeup artist
  264. Suzannah P. Baron, writer, journalist
  265. Sabeeh Ahmad, filmmaker
  266. Anna Leghari, fashion designer, blogger
  267. Shayma Saiyid, dancer, choreographer, writer
  268. Manzar Qureshi, broadcaster, writer, journalist
  269. Shahzia Sikander, visual artist
  270. Mina Malik-Hussain, writer, teacher, performer, activist
  271. Khaqan Shahnawaz, lawyer, model
  272. Seniha Mubashir, interior designer
  273. Maheen Sabeeh, journalist
  274. Tayyaba Nasir, student, writer, (low-key) artist
  275. Tanvir Fatima Rehman, painter, educationist , interior designer, art director
  276. Nayab Shami, art consultant, curator
  277. Ipshita Sen, entrepreneur 
  278. Sarmad Khoosat, actor, director
  279. Zebunnisa Hamid, film researcher, educator
  280. Zain Ahsan, music producer, musician
  281. Nussebah Osman, visual artist
  282. Neha Ahmad, architect, body artist, blogger
  283. Mohsin Shafi, visual artist
  284. Nabeela Ahmad, communications lead, barbican estate office
  285. Hira Nabi, visual artist, filmmaker
  286. Farhan Ali, visual artist
  287. Saadia M. Mirza, architect, researcher
  288. Arham Tausif, communications, design consultant, writer
  289. Haseem uz Zaman, journalist, photographer
  290. Sanam Mehdi RIzvi, writer, head of dawn films
  291. Nadeem baig, film & tv director
  292. Armeena Khan, actor
  293. Erum Shahid Ahmad, tv producer
  294. Suhaee Abro, dancer, actor
  295. Samina Ahmed, actor
  296. Ujala Hayat, visual artist
  297. Musab Iqbal, doctoral researcher
  298. Hassan Tahir, student counsellor, writer
  299. Afshan Shafi, writer
  300. Moeed Tariq, fashion designer, writer, editor
  301. Kinza Razzak, actor
  302. Kiran Saeed, artist, educator
  303. Anjum Alix Noon, visual artist
  304. Hashim Ali, art director
  305. Akifa Mian, film director
  306. Hasna Sami, cultural and social media manager
  307. Faran Tahir, actor
  308. Beena Sarwar, journalist, editor, teacher
  309. Riffat Ullah, journalist
  310. Alena Peerzada, director programs, rafi peer
  311. Mehar Bano, actor, filmmaker
  312. Saulat Ajmal, visual & performance artist, educator
  313. Krittika Sharma, entrepeneur
  314. Hassaan Ashraf, artist
  315. Rizwan Ashraf, executive director marketing, 92 News
  316. Najah Shahid, media & communications student
  317. Lali Khalid, visual artist, educator
  318. Arjumand Rahim actor, producer
  319. Bushra Ansari, actress
  320. Vaneeza Ahmad, entrepreneur, artist
  321. Sohai Ali Abro, actor
  322. Zahra Jewanjee, visual artist, educator


  1. Maryam Haq, lawyer
  2. Nadia Laghari, lawyer
  3. Bushra Hamid
  4. Farhan Tahhir
  5. Azmeh Khan, lawyer
  6. Zainab Noor Rahman, mental health counsellor, educator
  7. Rafay Alam, environmentalist
  8. Mariam Shah, entrepreneur 
  9. Hassaan Khan, psychotherapist, educator
  10. Hooria Khan, lawyer, women’s rights activist
  11. Faqeer Mohammad Laghari, engineer
  12. Ali, lecturer
  13. Atif Ehsan, technical support executive
  14. Bushra Azhar, lawyer
  15. Zoya Rehman, researcher, lawyer, activist/organizer
  16. Fawad Haider, coordination engineer
  17. Narmeen Altaf, health, gender & development consultant
  18. Khadija Bulledi, student
  19. Sarah Farooq, lawyer
  20. Sophia Hameed
  21. Zuhaira Farooq, software engineer
  22. Bushra Amir
  23. Arooj Ismail, co-founder GharPar
  24. Musa Shahid, electrical engineer
  25. Maria Mustafa, educator, clinical psychologist
  26. Beenish Tariq, business director
  27. Asfia Fazal, executive business partner
  28. Mira Hashmi, educationist
  29. Unsa Bukhari, student
  30. Sarah Suhail, lawyer
  31. Simi Kamal, women’s rights activist, water specialist
  32. Sabahat Nawaz, researcher, educator
  33. Anna Fanelli, translation project manager
  34. Amira Khan, doctor
  35. Frédérique Nourry, administrative manager
  36. Asif Haroon William, senior manager mergers & acquistions
  37. Nida Kirmani, associate professor, sociology
  38. Anam Khan, lawyer
  39. Danyal Abbas Sopariwala, banker
  40. Moshay, marketing head
  41. Zeesham Zafar Hashmi, lawyer, lecturer of law
  42. Sahar Hussain, lawyer
  43. Saiff Akbar, lawyer
  44. Hamid Faiz, airplane pilot
  45. Sidra Akram, lawyer
  46. Nwa Abbas, teacher
  47. Roshail Tarar, software engineer
  48. Sumera Rashid
  49. Umair Hameed
  50. Sadaf Aijaz, art & culture supporter
  51. Shazia Omar
  52. Babar Manzoor, chartered accountant
  53. Anushka Peracha, counsellor
  54. Amina Samee, integrative psychotherapist, counsellor
  55. Zainab Durrani, lawyer
  56. Hafsa S. Ahmad, lawyer
  57. Olivia Qasir, student
  58. Michelle Shahid, lawyer, blogger
  59. Ramsha Zafar, student, blogger
  60. Aroosha Mansuri
  61. Lubna Awan, barrister
  62. Ameer Gilani, realtor, Yoga instructor
  63. Taimur Ahmed, educationist, engineer
  64. Zainab Chugtai, founder bully proof, lawyer
  65. Reeha Hafeez, yoga instructor
  66. Ambreen khan, banker
  67. Nabiha Meher Shaikh, feminist educator
  68. Ghazala Kazim, activist
  69. Zoha Qureshi, optometrist
  70. Sarah Malik, personal trainer, fitness blogger
  71. Nabeela Ahmed
  72. Khadija Sid, lawyer, activist
  73. Wara Haider
  74. Shmyla Khan, lawyer, activist
  75. Qasim Ali Mureed
  76. Zahra Khan, entrepreneur 
  77. Fareeha Yazdani, realtor
  78. Saba Sajid, safeguarding team manager
  79. Daniya Ahmed, student
  80. Nighat jibran
  81. Bushra Gohar, politician, human rights activist
  82. Mujib ur Rehman
  83. Dr. Zebunnisa Sohail, emergency physician
  84. Saadia Toor, educator

* if you would like to become a signatory, please leave your name and position relevant to the cultural sector in the comment section. We will regularly update the list accordingly. 

332 thoughts on “On sexual harassment

  1. Alena Peerzada
    Director Programs
    Rafi Peer

    We need to collectively work towards creating a safe working environment for women in the feild of culture and entertainment, I stand by this movement and sincerely hope that it makes a difference at large.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Arjumand Rahim Actor/Producer
      Wholeheartedly support Meesha and all the brave souls who are speaking out. #timesup


  2. Any woman brave enough to make herself vulnerable to abuse & ridicule by misogynists while demanding dignity for women in society, has my utmost admiration.
    Speak truth to power!


  3. There should be Zero Tolerance for Sexual Harassment. We all must Stang up against it. Don’t give up. Stay strong.


  4. Sohai Ali Abro (actor)
    I completely stand by Meesha Shafi and her stance on sexual harassment. #saynotosexualharassment #istandbymeeshashafi


  5. We should develop zero tolerance for sexual harassment and continue to speak out against such crimes


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