Me Too, Indian Style-Jeetendra Accused of Rape

Have you noticed that Bollywoodhungama always puts the really boring stories to the front with stuff like “You Won’t Believe!” or “Wow!” and then buries the really big ones?  Well, Jeetendra’s rape accusation is that times a thousand.  This has got to be the biggest story in the industry today, and everyone one is reporting it, but also burying it a little.  Not just Bollywoodhungama, every website.  I mean, they are reporting it, that’s good, but it’s not getting the kind of extra special obsessive treatment that Irrfan’s announcement-that-isn’t-really-an-announcement is getting.

Jeetendra and Rape

I went to Quint for background, because they are the most reliable source (I use Bollywoodhungama instead most of the time because they report EVERYTHING which lets me pick and choose, whereas Quint has already done a little of the picking for me).  In 1971, Jeetendra (then 28 and unmarried, although seriously dating the woman who would become his wife) arranged for his 18 year old cousin, daughter of his father’s sister, to join him at a hotel in Shimla while he was doing a shoot.  They shared a room, he came home drunk and shoved the beds together and raped her.  She did not report it at the time, or over the next 47 years, because her parents were alive.  But she sent an email to the Shimla police now and they are investigating.

There is a fair chance the investigation will come to nothing, for one thing because of the statute of limitations, but at least an investigation has been started and the story is out there.  People are trying to tie it to “Me Too” in America, but it’s not the same really, not at all.  This has nothing to do with film or the film industry, not the rape itself at least, although the way it is reported and handled might.

If you look at the details, this is not a rape that is related to the film industry in any way shape or form.  If Jeetendra had been a businessman or a doctor or a government official, or a chaiwallah or a driver or a cook, he still would have invited his teenage cousin on a trip with him, still would have had the opportunity to rape her, and she still would have kept quiet for the sake of the family.

Image result for jeetendra young

(Jeetendra was very handsome.  Which also has nothing to do with this, handsome or ugly you might still be a rapist)

Rape is about power and opportunity.  In the American film industry, there is a unique opportunity for powerful men to take advantage of women.  And there is a culture of power and abuse which attracts men who want that kind of power over women.

Beyond that, there is in almost every culture (American and Indian included) opportunities for men to rape women they are related to without fear of any kind of punishment.  And for some men that opportunity reacts with something dark inside of them and whenever it is presented to them, the take advantage of it. Once or twice or over and over and over again.

This particular rape is one that might, and has, occurred in every culture.  A young female relative would be trusted alone with a male relative, giving him opportunity.  And she would feel guilty and confused and therefore never report it, or only report it years later.  In Indian culture, perhaps, it might occur more often, with the large combined families putting multiple young women within the reach of multiple young men.

Image result for 21 kids and counting

(Remember the 19 Kids and Counting scandal when it turned out one of the boys had molested his sisters and a cousin?  Do you also remember that some people raised in that same religious extremist culture came forward and said “yeah, of course it happens, your relatives are the only women you are allowed to be alone with, it’s unhealthy and unnatural”?)

I would not be surprised if this is the only time in his life that Jeetendra behaved this way.  I would also not be surprised if it happened over and over again, and yet we will never find out, because his victims were similarly unable to talk.  Not because he is a movie star or anything related to his fame, but because he is their cousin, or their husband’s best friend, or any of the other many many social/familial bonds which would keep you forever silent.

I’m reminded of the last big rape case, Shiney Ahuja’s.  He raped the teenage maid of his house while his wife was out of town.  Again, it had nothing to do with the film industry or his being an actor.  If anything, that ended up protecting her.  Because he was an actor, not just another middle-class man who raped his teenage uneducated maid, she was able to get the support she needed to report him.

Nothing here has anything to do with film, with the film industry, with a “lack of morals”, with anything that isn’t happening every day all over the world done by people from every level of society and every profession.

What is different is how it is being reported.  As I said, Shiney Ahuja’s maid was “lucky” in that she was able to actually file a case and get noticed.  Jeetendra’s cousin, his being a movie star has no effect on her life or her case.  But it is interesting to see how this is being reported.  It is being reported, there is no effort to hush it up, the Shimla police are saying it.  But it is not being blasted around the web, if you google search “Jeetendra” this is not the first thing that comes up, his wiki page and other boring things are.  It’s not the front page, it’s not headline news, no one is tweeting about it.  I am not getting the feeling of a cover up, but more of a “well, will people be that interested in this?”

Perhaps if it had involved an actress, if it would allow people to shake their heads and feel superior to the fallen morals of the film people, then it would get the headlines and the big blast.  Or if it were recent, involving some attractive young woman they could plaster around the page, or at least imply in the background.  But instead it is, well, boringly every day.  A man took advantage of a woman of his family because he could, and she kept it to herself for 47 years to protect the family honor.

Image result for rape statistics in india

(We all know that a growth in REPORTED rape cases is a good thing, right?  It means women are beginning to trust the police and government and actually reporting things that previously they would have kept to themselves.  So, yaaaay!  India is registering more and more rape cases every year!)

The only thing vaguely film related, which I will be watching over the next few days, is how the flagholders for feminism in the industry deal with it.  This isn’t an easy villain, Jeetendra did this decades ago and now he is an old man with a grandchild.  And it’s not an “easy” rape, it’s not that stranger rape that everyone is always talking about and which almost never happens.  Are you going to shun him, and shun his (very powerful) family?  Or are you going to take the easy way out, believe the argument of “I was drunk, I was young, I was confused, I thought she wanted it”?


42 thoughts on “Me Too, Indian Style-Jeetendra Accused of Rape

  1. Holy crap!!!! How have I missed this story?!!!!!

    This is huge. Also, I read this aloud to my mom and she went “what’s the point of her saying this NOW? How will she prove it?” I tried explaining the me too movement to her but I don’t think it’s making a difference. What the fuck?!!


    • THIS IS WHAT I AM SAYING!!!! It’s not being reported in a “can’t miss” way. Which is, in fact, why I check Bollywoodhungama every day. Because they report EVERYTHING and then I can pick and choose what is important.

      And really, I don’t think has anything to do with Me Too. I think it is a woman who was raped by her cousin 47 years ago and finally feels able to report it. Nothing to do with taking a stand for abuse of women or anything like that, just this one woman doing it. And yay for the Shimla police! Believing and investigating for her!

      I assume the difference reporting is making is that she has felt scared and ashamed for 47 years and now she feels it a little less.


      • Although, I guess the me too movement must have helped! I know it got us talking. Friends are coming out with stories of abuse and harassment. Even I remembered this incident from when I was 12. And random bits about other girls. It made me sick that we forget. Or we’re made to forget.


        • that’s great to hear! Not that bad things happened, but that conversations are starting.

          I hadn’t thought about that, for me #MeToo is more about reforming a particular massive toxic industry (one of many toxic industries, I wish something similar would happen in, for instance, the tech world. Or maybe it is happening and is just not being reported). But I guess it also means rape and abuse in general is entering the conversation in places where it may never have come up before, because celebrities are talking about it happening to them.


          • I guess everyone was talking about it to their close friends (thank you culture of shame. Thank you very much!) but now they can have this conversation with their social media friends and male friends. I think the older generation still has a hard time talking about this but hey, if this makes our kids more aware, that’s a welcome change.

            Liked by 1 person

          • I can tell you that for sure #MeToo is entering the everyday conversations in the US and raising awareness regardless of industry. I belong to a support group for professional women and it’s been dominating the conversation for months.

            @Asmita maybe tell your mom that voicing it now means her truth is heard regardless of whether a prosecution comes out of it. Sometimes just telling the truth holds a huge amount of power.

            Liked by 2 people

          • The way she got all defensive about it madame wonder if she was covering something up. I guess I’ll wait till she’s off her anxiety meds to have this conversation. But seriously the WTFness of this episode is blowing my mind!


  2. Hey, Margaret, thanks for the thoughtful reporting and analysis as always. I have a major problem with this sentence: “And for some men the appeal of that power can overwhelm them, once or twice or over and over and over again.” Rape doesn’t happen because an otherwise good person is “overwhelmed” by urges or power, or anything else. This falls right into so much harmful framing about rape, including excusing rape as a one time thing caused by external circumstances or being drunk, or excusing rape by saying that men are sub-human animals with barely restrained urges. Both wrong. Rape is a choice. Raping someone makes you a bad person, period, not an otherwise ok person who is “overwhelmed” by external forces. I found the sentence thoughtless and damaging, and it surprised me so much coming from you.

    Raping someone makes you a bad person, full stop. That doesn’t mean that a rapist is irredeemable–but I haven’t known many rapists–in real or reel life, who do the hard work of self-reflection, personal growth, and ongoing contributions to rape prevention and victim/survivor services, that I’d consider actual redemption.


  3. Nice article but I’m not surprised why this did not catch the headlines.This was only mentioned in a small section in every newspaper when the news broke out.
    Reasons? Well first his daughter owns a production house so it is possible to pull a lot of strings.
    Second she was 18 back then and now the lady is 47 or 49 so every “great” intellect starts questioning “why didn’t she complain back then?”
    Third if somebody even decides to investigate the matter the family members or relatives would claim she is mentally disturbed or some kind of similar rubbish.Then why would anyone take the trouble to dig further if they themselves decide it wont grab eyeballs.
    Shiney Ahuja’s case well they must’ve had an out of court settlement or threatened her and her family.What the media forgets that it is still rape.The reason why his career has not taken off again is simply because the audience has some shame left so nobody would want to even watch his movies.Did you notice the welcome he got from the industry when he came back in Welcome Back?
    Amazing how Shayan Munshi got an opposite treatment when he refused to be an eye witness to a murder he witnessed which he did not commit.


    • I am one of those audience members who just can’t watch Shiney movies. I saw Welcome Back without realizing he was in it, and I was physically cringing the entire time. It’s not a moral stand, it’s a sort of physical revulsion. Especially since his defense was that it was “consensual” sex with his 18 year old maid while his wife and baby were out of town. Even if that defense is true (which I certainly don’t think it is), that is also just disgusting.

      I feel the same way about this story. What’s Jeetendra going to say, it was “Consensual”? Him being 28, her 18, and his cousin? That’s still unforgivable and horrible.

      You are totally right about the “great” minds saying “why didn’t she complain back then?” And of course the follow up question that we are already seeing her “why would she bother complaining now?” All of which miss the point utterly.


      • Exactly I mean there might be lots of reasons why she didn’t complain and then they already start questioning the timing of her complain.I’m not saying that every allegation is true but at least listen to it completely investigate it and then speak about it.Oh and Jeetendra incident i don’t think was discussed in any news channel.I don’t think he’l use the word “Consensual”.I’m sure his family and relatives will come forward and say she is unstable .
        True about Shiney Ahuja he said it was consensual the maid confirmed it that very minute the industry and media started changing their tone and making it sound like he was a victim they forgot that he cheated on his wife.How is it not a big thing?We forgot about Ankit Tiwari .He and his family started victim shaming the girl after they made her change the statement.Why are people like them so bad?


        • There’s also the problem with Shiney, besides it just being disgusting for a man to sleep with his maid the minute his wife is out of town (infidelity in general is a complex issue, but I think it is fairly clear in this case he didn’t fall overwhelmingly in love, it wasn’t an open marriage, it was a just a matter of seeing women as interchangeable and if his wife wasn’t around, he would take the next thing on offer, insulting to both women involved), that an 18 year old maid doesn’t really have the option of saying “no”. It is hard for me to picture a situation in which this ISN’T sex by coercion. It’s not a woman he met in a club, or an ex-girlfriend, or anything like that, it is a powerless poor woman whose livelihood depends on him. And who he saw as just a body for his pleasure when his wife’s body wasn’t around.

          To my mind, rape is the ultimate crime of selfishness, or lack of empathy. To put your pleasure over unfathomable pain caused to another. And so I am not surprised that it is followed by victim blaming, by threats, by other smaller moments of putting yourself ahead of others. The only “solution” to rape, for me, is to somehow force that empathy onto the rapist. It’s not going to happen, but wouldn’t it be wonderful if Jeetendra’s response was “yes, I did it, this has weighed on me for years, I have caused terrible pain to someone I cared about, and since becoming a father and watching my daughter grow to adulthood, I have fully understood the damage I have done and I am ready to be punished however the courts deem fit”. That, to me, is the only possible “happy ending”.


          • Jeetendra owning up to his crime can be called justice served.
            But saying sorry only because the news was out.I honestly don’t buy that.
            I honestly can never forgive people who harm or hurt others for pleasure or fun.
            I’ve zero respect for people like them.
            Oh and blackmailing the maid into sleeping with him that is not right either.But we don’t know what happened that day.He might’ve not even asked her for permission who knows.


    • All back now! Must have been something in it that looked like spam, which meant all your comments for the day ended up being spammed. I check the spam filter every few days for just this situation, but if I miss something, keep commenting or send me a message through “contact me” until I respond and fix it.


  4. I am sorry but what’s the use of coming out 50years after the event?
    And how will shimla police investigate.

    It would be just a case of he said she said.

    And Ekta will put whole balaji legal team into the case, its a lose lose situation for everyone involved.


    • Coming forward can give enormous peace to the victim, if she chooses to do so. It sounds like in this case she had wanted to speak for decades and only kept silent for the sake of her parents. Even if nothing else comes of it, merely sending that email to the police and (no doubt) also talking about this tragedy to her close family and friends could be invaluable for her.

      Liked by 3 people

      • Better late than never! She probably just wanted to get it off her chest, she would’ve felt so powerless if she hadn’t let anyone know. He continues to live well, without any discomfort and once she died nobody else would ever know. At least now people know, and no matter what the outcome its a lesson that your deeds go all the way to your grave with you.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Exactly. And your deeds can go beyond the grave as well, in terms of the victim I am sure even coming forward after the rapist is dead can give you some degree of peace, knowing that you aren’t carrying the burden of knowledge alone and that your words have the power to tarnish his legacy.

          I’m not necessarily expecting this story to set off a rash of accusations against powerful film figures, but wouldn’t it be wonderful if it set off a rash of truth speaking by elderly victims?

          On Wed, Mar 7, 2018 at 2:32 PM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:



    • She’s anonymous to us, but I imagine to her family the specifics of the story must make it clear who she is. Even if Jeetendra has dozens of female cousins, there can’t be more than one who was in Shimla with him in 1971. I hope before she filed her complaint, she spoke with the important people in her life and knew who would and wouldn’t support her. I’d hate to think that there was some kind of personal backlash in this case. So messy with these kinds of intimate attacks, there is no way to really keep secret from your inner circle or the attacker’s inner circle who the survivor is.

      On Wed, Mar 7, 2018 at 3:54 PM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:



  5. The only commonality I see between this and the American Me Too stories is that an accusation is already believed as unrefutable truth, at least in this blog.

    By the way, this news came while you were still on vacation, Margaret, I saw it on another Bollywood forum.


    • `
      Interesting point — but a very sensitive one.

      When there is such a history of truthful accusers being discredited,and blame-the-victim bias, there is a legitimate tendency now to support the complainant until proven otherwise.

      Liked by 1 person

    • I think it depends, Moimeme. You definitely have a point in stating that not each accussation should be presumed thruthful. But this one, I think, seems to be a truthful one regarding the circumstances.


    • Studies have shown that false rape accusations are made at essentially the same rate as any crime–about 3%.

      Also, there is a difference between legal and personal/social standards of proof, guilt, and innocence. Our opinions here hold no legal weight.

      Liked by 1 person

    • When celebrities are accused of a crime, the court of public opinion tends to believe the crime is true until proven otherwise, unless the story is completely hackneyed or absurd, while simultaneously entrusting the legal system with ferreting out the details to determine the correct truth.

      The exception to this has always been intimate crimes. It’s always been peril for the accuser, not the celebrity, if the press reported the crime.

      If the public is now reacting to intimate crimes the way they have always reacted to all other crimes, well that’s a good thing, because it normalizes intimate crimes as being crimes too, worthy of justice and the legal system, and not just a private matter between two people.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I don’t know the stats on this, but I believe that the percentage of females in salaried employment is much higher in the usa than in India. Teen women either work it go too school but rarely do both. Adult women post college may or may not work prior to marriage. And once married they tend not to work in salaried employment with bosses and colleagues who aren’t family or relatives.

    So MeToo Indian-style wouldn’t be harassment in the workplace, because such a smaller percentage of women would be affected by that.

    Instead, MeToo Indian-style is perfectly exemplified by this jertendra case… A relative or close family friend sexually harasses you (or worse), and you struggle with the decision to report it or not – not because you risk employment or advancement, but because you risk good relations with your family members, risk embarrassing your family, risk the honor of your family, risk the wrath of your family, risk being disowned by the family, not to mention risk marital prospects. And so she waited till after her parents were gone before she reported it.

    And MeToo Indian style is just as valid for India as MeToo American style is for America. And it is India specific or Global South specific because we in the west don’t by and large face those same risks in reporting intimate crimes.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, this really changes how I look at it. It is all about power, or rather powerlessness. If a woman is working, she is no longer powerless in the face of her family, she has the ability to break from them and be independent. But she loses power in the face of her employer. So in places where women are primarily in the workforce, it is their employer who has ultimate power over them. But in places where they are within the home, it is their families. And either way the challenge is to be fearless enough to break through that power barrier and speak the truth.

      Have you seen Aruvi? That movie did a really good job of showing the cycle of abuse. Abuse in the home made her vulnerable to abuse from employers, religious figures, anyone else. She had no one to support her and was completely at their mercy. It’s the same story I feel like I have heard many times, a woman who is abused (sexually or otherwise) by her family, is desperate to escape, and so jumps into another abusive situation (sex work, an abusive marriage, a job filled with sexual harassment, etc.) because she is an easy victim who cannot risk speaking up and losing what little safety she has gained.

      On Thu, Mar 8, 2018 at 8:49 AM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:



      • I feel like that’s what America got with the Catholic church scandals a few decades back. The conversation started on how religious figures can abuse their power and an opening to talk about that. I was hearing things not just about Catholic Priests, but all religious leaders from all religions, it was suddenly okay to talk about and address. A few years back I went through a training to tutor in a Catholic school, and part of it was a detailed sexual abuse reporting and recognition lesson. Which was good, that it was now being talked about and aggressively addressed.

        Of course, based on the headlines I see, it looks like India has had many many opportunities to start a conversation on abuses by religious figures and has chosen to NOT do that. Ditto political figures. But you never know, some day it could happen!


        • Well we did have some success with the incarcerations of Asharam Bapu and Gurmeet Ram Raheem but for some odd reason the godman culture just refuses to die in this country. Or maybe it’s that the country is so effing diverse that one kind of news just doesn’t impact everyone equally.


          • I guess that was the big difference with the Catholic Church scandal in America. It truly was a national story, because of how uniquely universal Catholicism was. And then it turned into more of a local story as the more individual and regionally strong religious groups also received some of the backlash. Don’t know if that could ever happen in India because I can’t imagine one of the minority religions having as large an impact, and like you say, Hinduism is way to regionally specific.


    • Yep, all got spammed for some reason, they are rescued now. Any time that happens, just let me know, that’s usually the problem. I get a lot of spam so I use a very aggressive spam blocker and sometimes if you use a random combination of words that is common in comments from a spambot or something like that, you can get blocked.


      • oh definitely I’ll let you know no problem ..i did think you might’ve a spam blocker because after i made the comment i made above a lot of my comments after that were not visible.I made the comments based on the following article so obviously I’ve to use certain words.
        Good thing you’ve a spam blocker at least you don’t have to deal with random rubbish comments and you can have a healthy discussion with normal people here.Don’t worry i’l let you know the next time no problem.


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