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Indian Film & Television Director's Association (IFTDA) has suspended director Sajid Khan for one year over the sexual harassment allegations leveled against him by several women following an investigation.
IFTDA said acting on the recommendations of the Internal Complaints Committee's (ICC), it has suspended Sajid's membership for a period of one year with immediate effect, which will be reviewed after a year, the organization said in a statement. Three women, including a journalist and two actors, have accused Sajid of sexual harassment.
IFTDA president Ashoke Pandit said, "The reason we have set up a committee is to assure women and men that there is an avenue, which is gender neutral, for seeking redressal if they have been wronged by someone.
"By suspending Sajid for a year, we have only tried to put forth a word that there is redressal as long as you have the courage to speak up and bring out the complete truth, better late than never," he added. Pandit believes the increasing awareness about the POSH Act guidelines and the #MeTooIndia Movement have encouraged women to speak up.
"It has given them the confidence to speak against sexual harassment. A complainant, who shows courage to speak against unwelcome behavior regardless of who is the perpetrator, is not merely an object of pity or sympathy, but a survivor setting the world on fire with her truth. Now, it's our duty to uproot such unwelcome behavior around us," he added.
Sajid, who was working on his next directorial venture Housefull 4, had to step away from the project following the allegations against him. The committee, in a statement, said the allegations in the complaints are serious instances of sexual harassment, unwelcome sexually determined behavior, unwarranted contact by poking and advances, demands for sexual favors and abuse of power by Sajid.
Sajid was given an opportunity to put forth his defense but he did not give any explanation, response or defense to the allegations.