After seven nominees rejected their Lux Style Awards nominations to stand in solidarity with victims of harassment, the LSA's film jury finally released a statement last night defending their decision to include an individual accused of harassment.
Models Eman Suleman and Rubab Ali, clothing brand Generation, make up artists Saima Bargfrede and Fatima Nasir, and folk band The Sketches all withdrew their participation from the awards show this week. Musician Meesha Shafi also rejected her nomination for 'Best Song.'
In April 2018, Meesha Shafi accused fellow musician Ali Zafar of sexual harassment. Zafar denied the accusation. He is presently nominated for an LSA in the 'Best Actor' category.
In their statement signed 'The Film Jury, Lux Style Awards 2019', the LSA's film jury stated that the jury decision was entirely independent from both the LSA management and Unilever Pakistan, which sponsors the event.
The jury further states: "The LSA film jury joins the Lux brand and Unilever Pakistan in condemning all acts of intolerance, discrimination or harassment. However, it is also important to emphasise that the decisions of the film jury were based on an assessment of the merits of the cinematic work. We do not consider any other extraneous issues related to the personal characters or actions of people associated with that work."
The statement further read that the jury, "appreciates the sensitivity of the subject and recognises the intensity of public sentiment. Nevertheless, it is also important to respect that the case is being decided by Pakistan's judicial system."
The LSA film jury comprises of a selection of critics, journalists, filmmakers and others associated with the entertainment industry. According to information released by a jury member, the film jury for LSA 2019 comprised of 10 men and two women.
Social media has been abuzz with discussion on this controversy, and the chatter hasn't been restricted to just commentators. Industry insiders have also gone head to head on this issue. Model Eman Suleman called out actress Iman Ali for standing with the awards, and stylist Tabish Khoja has apologised for uploading a video on Instagram that made fun of victims of sexual harassment.
Meanwhile, some are criticising the film jury's statement, as well as the LSA in general.
This is a developing story and will be updated accordingly.