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MUMBAI: The #Metoo movement has engulfed India’s up-and-coming poetry star Shamir Reuben.
The 23-year-old poet has been accused by multiple women of graphic sexual texting. He has been accused of asking underage girls to send him nude photos.
The latest to level allegations of sexual misconduct is Mumbai student Sakina Bootwala, 19, who says in an Instagram post that Reuben started “sexting’’ her after they met at a social event in 2015.
“With the whole Weinstein thing and people speaking out so much, I thought it was high time that we stop his (Reuben’s) hypocrisy – he posted something in support of the #metoo campaign. It’s high time he got called out on (his misconduct),” she was been quoted as saying by Mumbai Mirror.
Bootwala’s post opened the floodgates as at least 30 women have contacted her to tell about `sexting’ by Reuben.
She said Reuben “came across as a sweet guy’’ and “he started off with a compliment. Then the conversation became a little uncomfortable…”
Another woman says, “He forced me to send nudes and engage in sexual conversations through messages. I never did. Then he came to Delhi and asked me to meet him and then he tried kissing me in an auto.’’
Yet another woman has written, “He began to manipulate me and boasted so much about how he had it so easy with most girls…Eventually I distanced myself but he kept messaging me and I lost all respect for him. It’s heart-breaking to see your ideals stoop this low.”
And yet another 21-year-old Pune girl has been quoted by Mumbai Mirror as saying, “I started speaking to Shamir when I was 16. We remained on a cordial basis for around two to three years. Around a year ago, in a particularly low period of my life, I messaged him one day seeking emotional support, perhaps a listening ear or simply just a distracting conversation. It took him no time at all to steer the conversation towards flirting and, even more quickly, to a sexual place. This involved hypothetical questions along the lines of ‘How would you react if I was kissing you right now?’ to asking for nudes. Asking is perhaps a mild word for what it was – let’s use haranguing. I told him I wasn’t interested, that I wasn’t in the mood, that it was inappropriate, and that I was in a relationship. Nothing seemed to matter. He kept on. The insisting repeated the next night.
“He harangued me to a point where I agreed to ‘sext’ him. This primarily involved him talking about what he was fantasizing about and me sending monosyllabic replies. Later when I confronted, he conveniently put the blame on me that I wasn’t clear about my stand on the matter.”
But the young poet has denied the allegations of sexual misconduct.
In a facebook post on Thursday, he said, “I genuinely do not believe my messages or actions would cause them hurt, and I sincerely hope that I can be forgiven by all those that I may have inadvertently wronged. Several things said are an incorrect portrayal of past events during 2013-2016, and the messages shared form part of longer conversations.”
Interestingly, Shamir became known for supporting feminist causes. He penned ‘I don’t want a daughter anymore’ in 2016 in dedication to Delhi gangrape victim Nirbhaya. He has also supported the #MeToo movement.
Shamir has been suspended from his job as head of content and social media at Kommune which is a a collective body of artists, producers, patrons, collaborators and art lovers.
He was supposed to attend Story Fest Chandigarh, but his invitation has been cancelled.