After several bigwigs in the entertainment and media industries were named as sexual predators and repeat offenders under the #MeToo campaign, a male model has shared his story where he alleges how renowned designer Vijay Arora had threatened him and made sure he was deprived of work because Arora’s sexual advances were rejected by him.
Kawaljit Singh Anand, a model who was reportedly once among the top 12 men selected for Mr World contest and has also been selected for the Men’s Fashion Week in 2009, has shared in a Facebook post on 24 October that designer Vijay Arora had tried to touch him inappropriately outside a party venue in Delhi. Anand says that when he rejected Arora’s advances and pushed him away, Arora had threatened him that he will make sure Anand will never get to do any of the fashion weeks.
Anand has further narrated that for several years, Vijay Arora had not only rejected him for several modelling opportunities but had also made sure that none of the other designers hires Anand. In 2006, Anand alleges that Arora had told him during an audition that neither he will hire Anand or let any of the other designers hire him for the Lakme India Fashion Week.
Anand has also shared the link of a 2009 article in Times of India that has mentioned his name and photograph among those celebrated for the 2009 Lakme India Fashion Week. Anand has added that despite being selected, he was never called for the event. He alleges that in 2002 Arora had even threatened him that he will have a stronger hold in the selection panel of the Lakme India Fashion Week and he will influence the panel not to select Anand.
Anand states further that after the incident of sexual advances when he tried to contact Arora for the payment of some pending dues, he had received abusive messages and threats.
Anand has also expressed concern over the entire #MeToo campaign being sexist and largely ignorant of the rampant sexual harassment that men in the entertainment and fashion industries go through.
Designer Vijay Arora has, however, denied the allegations and stated that Anand was not selected because his walk was poor and his allegations of sexual harassment and subsequent threats are false. He has also added that he is consulting his lawyers for legal action against the accuser.
Kawaljit Singh Anand, in a subsequent Facebook post, has stated that in addition to the harassment and abuse, the men in the fashion industry will now have to fear legal action too. He has added that he is not alone and there are many like him in the industry who are harassed but have to maintain silence for the fear of losing work. He has also refuted the claim of his walk being poor by saying a model with poor work will not be able to reach the top 12 of Mr World.
Anand in an earlier post has stated that the film industry is to women is what the fashion industry is for men in terms of sexual harassment and exploitation. He had added that if men in the fashion industry start opening up narrating the harassment they have faced, it will open floodgates. Over social media and many online platforms, several people are expressing solidarity with Anand.
A pragmatic look at the society we live in will confirm anyone that though the harassment and abuse faced by women get higher media coverage and attention, the sexual abuse of men is also rampant. There are countless instances of boys and teenagers being sexually abused in by Catholic priests all over the world. The fashion industry where the struggle is breakneck and the ‘shelf life’ of models is short, it is no wonder that men do get abused, threatened and exploited on a wide scale.