ISLAMABAD: Pakistan entertainment industry most prestigious awards, Lux Style Award, has been mired in a lingering controversy hit by boycott and pullouts triggered by the nomination of an alleged harasser.
The controversy started when Model Eman Suleiman first announced to pull out from the Award on March 31, within 24 hours after the nominations were made public on March 30.
Announcing to turn down her LSA nomination, she said that she did not want to be nominated alongside an alleged harasser.
Eman’s step triggered a series of withdrawals and announcements to boycott the LSA Award, which rejuvenated an already ongoing debate about sexual harassment in the entertainment industry.
— Frieha Altaf (@FriehaAltaf) April 25, 2019
Eman was followed by fashion brand Generation, makeup artist Saima Bargfrede, filmmaker Jami, model Rubbab Ali, singer Meesha Shafi, folk rock band The Sketches, designer Maheen Khan and makeup artist Fatima Nasir, who announced to boycott the awards.
In the midst of intermittent withdrawals, fashion designer Fareeha Altaf came up with her stance over the issue, saying she will fight from the platform of LSA against sexual harassment and women rights.
— Frieha Altaf (@FriehaAltaf) April 25, 2019
She took to micro-blogging site Twitter:” The #MEinBhi movement is not a one-off. The struggle to ensure a safer workplace will be a lifetime effort. My #LSA turf is the LSA show and the stage- not the Nominations that are done by independent juries. No one has a say in what the jury decides. But I can state very clearly that if I do #LSA2019 it will reflect all the values I uphold. I had every intention of including the son #Mein in the showflow and was in discussion with @MeeshaShafi before she was even nominated and then stepped out. Even today the entire show flow will reflect and uphold all #Meibhi values. In my opinion, if anybody should step down it’s the alleged sexual harasser, not the one who are innocent and oppose him. The LSA platform and event is very close to my heart and I will continue to fight, on my own turf, for women rights and empowerment. “
Amidst the boycott some people are arguing that the Lux Style Award has lost is credibility. Fashion designer Maheen Khan took to Twitter stating: “I have said from the outset that the LA, in fact all awards have lost their integrity in more ways than one. More so as a victim of sexual abuse and supporter of the metoo movement I cannot in all conscience support the event.”
The industry is men’s club, they dominate and rule the way they want. We withdrew our all 4 nominations from #LSA2019 because we believe this way we are taking a side, respecting the woman & adding some echo to her voice. #iBelieveHer #TheSketches https://t.co/6CnuPyeJeh
— Saif Samejo (@SaifSamejo) April 24, 2019
For the first time on Thursday since the announcement of the nominations, the Lux Style Awards has issued a statement.
The statement, issued by the LSA film jury on Thursday read, “Over the past 18 years, the Lux Style Awards have been nurturing Pakistani excellence in fashion, films, music and drama. Over these two decades, the Lux Style Awards nominations have been decided by an unbiased, independent and transparent jury of industry peers and critics.”
It added, “Neither the Lux Style Awards nor Unilever Pakistan has ever intruded into the independence of the jury’s decision. The LSA’s jury takes pride in this legacy of merit and authenticity, which have stood the test of time.”
— MEESHA SHAFI (@itsmeeshashafi) April 23, 2019
The statement continued, “In 2019, the Lux Style Awards have been surrounded by dialogue around nominees involved in a matter of sexual harassment. The LSA film jury joins the Lux Brand and Unilever Pakistan in condemning all acts of intolerance, discrimination or harassment.”
“However, it is also important to emphasise that the decisions of the film jury were based on an assessment of the merits of cinematic work. We do not consider any other extraneous issues related to the personal characters or actions of people associated with that work,” it added.
The statement concluded, “The film jury of the Lux Style Awards appreciates the sensitivity of the subject and recognises the intensity of public sentiment. Nevertheless, it is also important to respect that the cases is being decided by Pakistan’s judicial system. We have complete faith in the law of the land and believe that justice will prevail.”