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#MeToo: Susi Ganesan Defamation Case Against Leena Manimekalai To Be Heard Tomorrow

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The criminal defamation case filed by director Susi Ganesan against filmmaker Leena Manimekalai, who accused him of sexual harassment during the MeToo movement last year, will be heard tomorrow at 10 am at the Saidapet Magistrate Court in Chennai.

Leena wrote on Twitter today that she has been slut shamed and slapped with a defamation suit by the director who says that her poems, themes of her films, anti-fascist writing and queerness are evidence of her questionable character.

She said, “I used a small knife to save myself from him. Now I think I should’ve sold knives to this world than wasting my life writing poems and making films. My hearing is tomorrow, and I’ll be defending my case with my advocate and member of People’s Union of Civil Liberties, Sudha Ramalingam.”

Speaking to Silverscreen, she said she was prepared to fight out the case in court. “I look at being in court for this case as my political act and I will not give up on this fight. I’ll be defending my work and my testimony in court,” she said.

The complaint was filed by Susi Ganesan in June under section under section 500 of the IPC (punishment for defamation). In the complaint copy, he attempted to malign her character by citing her writing on women’s sexuality, her support for queer film festivals, the translations of her poetry and also her political stand on the Sabarimala issue. He said her work was “obscene with sexual images, texts and pictures,” and asked how such a woman’s allegations could be believed.

While the copy had 16 pages with attachments of Leena’s social media posts, Susi Ganesan presented his own track record as a director and producer of acclaimed films, and denied the allegation of attempted assault made by Leena, but did not elaborate on the allegations, or mention those made by Amala Paul who came out in Leena’s support and said that she too was sexually harassed by him on the sets of a film.

In 2017, Leena alleged that a leading filmmaker attempted to assault her in his car in 2005 while giving her a ride back home after she interviewed him for a TV channel. During the MeToo movement last year, she named Susi Ganesan as the person who harassed her. She described the incident of assault in detail and said she carried a small knife in her handbag which saved her.

Susi Ganesan denied the allegation saying no such interview happened, and threatened to file defamation suit. However, in a press meet in October last year, he contradicted himself and asked why she got into the car of a man she had just met, and what it said about her character. In other instances he said that his car was always driven by a driver and that he never owned a posh car as alleged by Leena. In last month’s complaint copy he further accused her of seeking sympathy and publicity with the allegation.

Defamation cases have been filed against most women who have called out assault by leading men in the film industry, including Shruti Hariharan who called out Arjun Sarja, and Tanushree Dutta who accused Nana Patekar of sexual harassment.

Feature Image Courtesy: Leena Manimekalai

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