Pakistan’s top court moves to hear high-profile #MeToo harassment case

Saturday, 16 January 2021 - 15:23

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Pakistan’s top court has moved to hear on merit a high-profile sexual harassment case that launched the country’s #MeToo movement, caused a stir on social media, and polarised public opinion.

Earlier this week, the Supreme Court agreed to deliberate on whether prominent singer and actress Meesha Shafi’s allegations against another singer and actor, Ali Zafar, fall under the country’s Protection Against Harassment of Women at the Workplace Act of 2010.

In April 2018, at the height of the global #MeToo movement, Shafi had accused Zafar on social media of sexual harassment of a physical nature on multiple occasions.

The following day, Zafar responded to the allegations via his social media accounts, rejecting Shafi’s claims and vowing to take the case “through the courts of law”.

Shafi’s appeal was rejected earlier by the Lahore High Court on technical claims that her allegations did not fall under the workplace harassment law.

However, the Supreme Court’s decision on Monday means the case will now move forward.

“The Supreme Court will now hear the case in detail and decide which categories of persons are protected under the law,” a member of Shafi’s legal team at the Supreme Court told Al Jazeera on condition of anonymity.

Last September, Shafi and eight other women were charged by police for criminal defamation after Zafar filed a suit against them.