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Pakistani Oscar-winning Director Defends Harassment Tweet After Controversy

Many on social media brutally criticised the director, Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy, for overreacting and accused her of being an elitist even though some defended her.


Updated:November 2, 2017, 8:41 PM IST
Pakistani Oscar-winning Director Defends Harassment Tweet After Controversy
File photo of Pakistani filmmaker Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy. Image: Reuters
Karachi: Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy, Pakistan's celebrated Oscar-winning filmmaker, has defended her tweets after they sparked off a debate in the social media on what constitutes "harassment".

Chinoy, a two-times Oscar-winner for her documentary /biographical films, was trolled when on October 23 she tweeted that her sister's doctor at the Aga Khan University Hospital harassed her by using her personal details to send her a Facebook friend's request after the treatment.

She was criticised for a particular tweet where she said, "Unfortunately the doctor messed with the wrong women in the wrong family and I will definitely report him! Harassment has 2 stop! (sic)"

Many on social media brutally criticised the director for overreacting and accused her of being an elitist even though some defended her.

Chinoy later clarified that though she may have used strong words, what happened to her sister was harassment and a breach of patient-doctor privilege.

"My recent tweets about a doctor's inappropriate behaviour has drawn much criticism and controversy. The conversation has unfortunately steered far from the safety of women, unchecked unethical practices, and harassment. Some of the words I used in anger have disappointed people and I agree that they were poorly chosen in a time of heated emotion. My words and heated sentiment seem to have drawn away from the real issues at hand," she said in a statement posted on her Twitter page.

She said her tweet about the "wrong women in the wrong family" was not meant to suggest a sense of privilege or power but to say that women in her family were strong and always stood up for themselves.

"It was not meant to suggest a sense of privilege or power," she added.

The director said the doctor in the case was on call that night in an emergency ward and a stranger to her and her sister "with whom no conversation other than medical was had, was trusted with medical access to a very private examination in the ward".

"Following this examination, he chose to seek out the patient on social media leaving comments on photographs & trying to add her as a Facebook friend."

Chinoy said that people may disagree with the way she called out the doctor's behaviour and debate the boundaries of social media but in her eyes it was a "breach of trust and a severe lack of professional code of conduct" and she would not stay silent on the topic.

The director won the Oscar award in 2012 for her documentary, "Saving Face" and then in 2016 for her biographical "A Girl in the river".

Most of her work has focused on inequality with women in Pakistan and she has been often accused of defaming the country with her work by hardliners.

One private hospital even stepped in to offer the doctor, who was reportedly fired for his conduct, a job on the same pay scale.
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| Edited by: Ashish Yechury
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