On Monday, Messha Shafi testified that Ali Zafar allegedly harassed her on three different occasions. She described the details in a statement. The statement was recorded as part of the defamation case filed by Ali Zafar at a sessions court in Lahore.
While recalling the incidents, Shafi said the first one happened at Ali Zafar’s father-in-law house. Meesha said when she entered the house Zafar ‘groped her as he greeted her’ in front of other people in the room, leaving her embarrassed and shocked. She told her husband, Mahmood Rahman, who was present at the gathering and angered him to the point that he wanted to confront Ali there and then, but Meesha stopped him from creating any drama.
The second alleged incident took place at a birthday party hosted at Ali’s house. Without describing in detail, the singer said she decided to reduce her interactions with Ali and his family.
Shafi revealed third incident happened in a jamming room at Ali’s house as part of rehearsals for a contractual obligation, where Ali ‘groped her at her place of work’. She then decided never to work with him again. Her statement to the court mentioned that Meesha’s public tweet was not a part of any plan or conspiracy, rather a last resort, when all other channels for resolution failed.
As per Meesha, she wanted to resolve the matter internally without going public. Prior to her tweet, Shafi spoke with Ali’s managers and told them about past incidents of all alleged harassment, mentioning clearly that she did not want to work with anymore. Zafar’s manager asked her if she was willing to consider an apology from Ali to resolve the matter.
Meesha said, instead of apologizing, Ali denied all the incidents. It made no choice left for her but to go public with the allegations when it became vividly clear that she might have to work with him, despite having told her employers that he had allegedly harassed her several times.
Meesha testified it was her right to have a dignified workplace and an environment free from harassment. She continued meeting Ali and his wife Ayesha Fazli, deciding to “forgive and forget”. She never told Ayesha about any of the incidents out of respect.
Meesha clarified that all the other women who spoke of being sexual harassed by him were unknown to her previously. I did not contact anyone to make allegations against him, she said.
After going public with her experience, the attacks against Meesha made her stop using social media. She revealed other women from their industry shared similar experiences of his predatory behavior.
“I am the one who suffered financial losses and reputational damages. My tweet is sharing a true experience and is not a defamatory statement.”
She added that when “I realized how difficult it is to face sexual harassment, I shared my experience to protect myself and others who are struggling to break their silence.”