Model Mujahid Rasool has come forward on Instagram to call out a culture of harassment in the fashion industry, specifically the exploitation of male talent by male gatekeepers.
In a series of posts using the hashtag #MeToo, the model said: "I have been struggling this field for 7-8 years which has been an experience full of harassment."
He explained: "'I have my own conditions! 'Can we meet alone?' 'Show me your n*** pictures!' ... These type of statements have to be faced by me since the day I am struggling in this media industry and I am more than 100% sure that I am not alone in this case, there could be many more out there."
Rasool shared screenshots of unnamed persons contacting him with an opportunity for work, albeit with 'conditions' attached. The screen shots can be seen below and on Instagram.
In a separate post he also alleged that photographer/promoter Azeem Sani wanted Rasool to trade sexual favours in exchange for work opportunities.
In a conversation with Images Mujahid Rasool clarified that the screenshots he shared on Instagram are not excerpts of a conversation with Azeem Sani, but are conversations with two separate men in the entertainment industry whose names he does not wish to disclose at this moment.
"The screenshots I've shared are from a famous designer and from a content head at a major production house in Karachi," says Rasool.
"It's been years since I've been facing this," says Rasool. "Everyone knows that this is the reality of the industry but no one wants to talk about it. I know I'm at a nascent stage in my career right now. I know that after this I might not get work. But this is something that needs to be addressed. Maybe change won't come right now, maybe change will come after 10 years or 20 years. But I hope my post can help or protect a young boy who wants to enter the field of entertainment. Harassers should know that victims will not stay silent anymore, they will speak out."
When asked about whether he's received criticism from his peers for speaking out, Rasool says: "I have received a backlash. I've got so many messages in my inbox saying, 'You could have just privately said no, why did you have to make it public.'"
"Everyone knows that this is the reality of the industry but no one wants to talk about it. I know I'm at a nascent stage in my career right now. I know that after this I might not get work. But this is something that needs to be addressed," says Rasool
However, Rasool says he was mentally prepared for any criticism that he might receive, and that he is also heartened by the support his post has generated. "We cannot judge a whole field by just these people," he says. "There are good people in the field and that's why I keep working. And if I don't get 80% of the work that's fine. I'll be satisfied by doing 20% of the work.
Rasool also cites his engagement with academia as part of the reason why he is choosing to speak out. "I'm doing a PhD in biological sciences at Punjab University, and I am also a lecturer at Aitchison College in Lahore," he says. "I'm a professional person and I expect professional behavior. Also because I am a teacher myself, I guess I feel I can't tolerate this behavior anymore."
Rasool's posts come just weeks after musician and actor Meesha Shafi accused pop singer Ali Zafar of sexual misconduct, marking what was arguably the first instance of a high-profile celebrity publicly accusing a peer of harassment in Pakistan.
Fellow models and actors have since started to share Rasool's post and have commented on it publicly. Model Rehmat Ajmal commented on the post urging Rasool to name and shame those whose screenshots he shared. Meesha Shafi has showed her support on Twitter as well.
Images approached photographer Azeem Sani; he declined to respond, saying "no comment".
This is a developing story and will be updated accordingly
Model Mujahid Rasool accuses photographer of sexual harassment, calls out misconduct in fashion industry