Buzzfeed India called out for being apologetic about poet accused of making sexual advances towards underage girls

Shamir Ruben a popular slam poet based in Mumbai has been accused of various girls of sexual misconduct which included making sexual advances towards minors. Ruben was also the creative head of Kommune, a Mumbai based art/live performance collective, which has in light of the allegations, suspended his role at the organisation.

One of the first victims to speak out against Ruben via a Facebook post alleged that he “initiated sexting” soon after they connected on a social media platform. She claims she was 16 at that time. She contends that she finally decided to call him out for his hypocrisy when he posted in support of the whole #MeToo campaign.

Following her post, several women responded to it by alleging that they were only 16-17 when Ruben engaged in creepy and predatory behaviour with them over text messages. They had initially come in contact with him via “ask.fm”, an anonymous Q&A website. One even alleged that he tried to forcibly kiss her when they met.

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What shook them, even more, was that Ruben, they claim, was a vocal supporter of women’s rights.

These allegations against Ruben were widely covered by various media houses one of which was Buzzfeed, which listed out the allegations and transcripts shared by some of Ruben’s victims, which included carrying the Facebook post written by Ruben in the aftermath of his reactions.

In the subheading of the Buzzfeed report, the website wrote that “Reuben has been accused of making sexual advances toward minor girls. He has “apologised profusely for any discomfort felt” because of him”. The report ended with the comments that no victims have filed an FIR against him, which was written in a bold headline format:

While sharing the article on socials, Buzzfeed decided to add in the plug that Ruben had “apologised” for his conduct:

This struck some social media users as odd behaviour, who proceeded to accuse Buzzfeed of being apologetic regarding the matter:

Twitter users also decided to call out Buzzfeed India’s editor Rega Jha after she initially feigned ignorance about the matter:

She then proceeded to question as to which part of the article as apologetic and claimed that at a personal level she was disgusted by his behaviour. This is the response she got:

Ms Jha retorted by claiming that “most” of the article was critical towards Ruben, which didn’t impress people:

It is amply clear that Buzzfeed India might be standing by the tone of its article, with its editor herself defending it, and raises the question whether it has been the publication’s standard template when it comes to reporting such stories.

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