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What’s Being Missed While Reporting Poonam Pandey’s Husband’s Arrest?

News reports of Poonam Pandey's husband's arrest beg the question, are newly-married men not supposed to be held accountable for their actions?

News reports of Poonam Pandey’s husband’s arrest beg the question, are newly-married men not supposed to be held accountable for their actions?

Model-turned actress Poonam Pandey accused her husband of sexually assaulting her following which he was arrested earlier this week. While domestic violence was the bigger issue in the story, a lot of focus was put on the duration of their marriage and him being a celebrity. Are newly-married men not supposed to be held accountable for their actions?

Poonam Pandey’s husband Sam Bombay may be on the list of celebrity men accused of sexual assault, does this sell a narrative different from reality? It is important to hold these men accountable for their actions while also looking at some problematic myths that we aren’t addressing.

While an increasing number of men accused of sexual assault are from Bollywood, it would be incorrect to say that the issue is not a common one.

Is sexual assault a reality only for certain people?

In 2017, the #MeToo movement began as a sign of solidarity among women sexually offended/assaulted by Hollywood director Harvey Weinstein. The movement took momentum in India too where many celebrity men were accused by women they had worked with.

These men have to be held accountable, allegations against them are relevant and needed. On the one hand, due to the coverage these cases get, it seems like only the film industry has cases of sexual assault, which is not the case. The only reason these cases are so infamous is because anything involving celebrities and the rich and the famous attracts TRPs.

Cases of sexual assault, harassment and even rape are pretty common across society, regardless of professions.

Married men don’t assault?

A number of times these allegations of sexual assault/harassment are termed as a means to ‘defame’ the men but is that really the problem? Especially when toxic narratives might be at play?

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Another aspect of allegations against Sam Bombay is the fact that the assault allegedly happened after certain days into the marriage. Though in most cases, marital rape of assault has been contested under the law and otherwise, a varying narrative seems to be getting promoted here. One that seems to promote that sexual assault cannot take place so soon into a marriage.

After a long relationship, Poonam Pandey got married to Sam Bombay and was says she was assaulted two weeks into the marriage. One must not take away from the relevance of her accusations and law must take its course.

However, could a problematic myth be taking birth here too? It seems to propagate the narrative that only married men are involved in sexual assault, which is far from reality.

Isn’t marital rape a reality?

Reports of women becoming victims of assaults or marital rape on their honeymoon are prevalent. However, increased media coverage of this indicates that partners could be abusers very early in relationships, or at any other stage.

Cases against celebrity men and otherwise are relevant and must be reported. At the same time, it is also important to recognise the echoes this creates in the rest of the world.

Sexual assault is a reality among men and women on and off big screens. Women may be victims of assault before or after marriage. It is vital for all these cases to surface as we may also be fighting myths and false narratives that come with them.

Picture credits: Still from Poonam Pandey’s Instagram

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About the Author

Shalabha Sarath

A student of International Relations at Shiv Nadar University. Enjoys old bands and acrylics. read more...

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