Preity Zinta Faces Victim-Blaming And Skepticism After Reporting Ness Wadia For Abuse

The unfortunate incident surrounding the Bollywood actress has served to illuminate the insensitivity with which gender violence is reported and talked about.

1. Reports surfaced Saturday morning that actress Preity Zinta had filed an official police complaint against ex-boyfriend Ness Wadia for assault and molestation.

Ritam Banerjee / Stringer / Via Getty Images

According to the Times Of India, Zinta filed an application with the police Thursday night, and it was converted to an FIR on Friday. The report was with regards to an incident that occurred at Mumbai’s Wankhade Stadium at around 8:30 p.m. on May 30, when Wadia allegedly manhandled and abused her.

Zinta lodged complaints against Wadia under Indian Penal Code sections 354 (assault or criminal force to woman with intent to outrage her modesty), 504 (intentional insult with intent to provoke breach of the peace), 506 (punishment for criminal intimidation) and 509 (word, gesture or act intended to insult the modesty of a woman).

Under pressure from the National Commission of Women to make an arrest within 24 hours, Mumbai police are investigating CCTV footage from the day of the reported incident, and questioning a list of witnesses provided by Zinta.

2. Businessman Wadia told reporters that the “allegations are totally false and baseless.”

Via Ritam Banerjee / Stringer

3. While police investigations are underway, several people took to Twitter to accuse Zinta of fabricating this incident as a publicity stunt:

#PreityNessMess what if this same complaint would have been filed by Ness Wadia earlier Wd the case Wd have been registerd?Victimisation.

— Ashoke Pandit (@ashokepandit)

7. Others said they’re skeptical of Zinta, because she had once been in a consensual relationship with Wadia:

#PreityZinta accusing of molestation by her ex-bf with whom she lived fr years. B**** plz, no one cares u exist or not, Lol. #PreityNessMess

— DEV (@deejaydev)

Judge - what was that which made you realize you are being molested ? Preity - when the check bounced ....! #preitynessmess

— Jyoti (@jyotitiwari05)

#PreityNessMess y s she complaining now wen she was abused long back?

— Mahesh Fattepur (@fathepurm)

Many Crime Against Women today is not about what "happens" but what she "perceives" as a crime. Such r Laws Defined! #PreityNessMess

— Deepika Bhardwaj (@DeepikaBhardwaj)

12. In response, it was noted that this mindset of skepticism regarding abusive relationships is in line with marital rape being non-punishable in India:

Seeing tweets on PZ doing this for badla I understand why marital rape will never make sense to Indians.

— Ra Ch Na (@raggedtag)

People saying Preity Zinta cannot claim to be molested just because she was girlfriend. Still long way to go for marital rape recognition!

— StupidosaurOn (@Stupidosaur)

Fact: Most gender violence is committed by friends/family/significant others. Indian mainstream: BUT SHE DATED HIM. WHAT A DRAMA QUEEN.

— Rega Jha (@RegaJha)

16. Another source of outrage was that news channel Times Now began reporting the story under the hashtag #PreityNessMess:

17. Their characterization of Zinta’s attempts at justice as a “mess” has sparked widespread criticism:

Hey @timesnow it is not #PrietyNessMess A women has been sexually harassed here and we are glad she complained. Please die with your Hashtag

— Raj Imran (@ImranDar_)

Wonderful job @timesnow. You & your hashtag #PreityNessMess are the prime example of why women in India aren't taken seriously.

— Neha (@nehizzle1)

Dear @timesnow, what sort of a hashtag is #PreityNessMess?! And you act all righteous when politicians ignore rapes. Utterly disgusting!

— Bellyrina (@BombayBellyrina)

Good to see that in the midst of all this the media hasn't forgotten it's duty of running chutiya hashtags. #PreityNessMess

— Tanmay Bhat (@thetanmay)

This hashtag #PreityNessMess from @timesnow is a tasteless attempt for TRP by scandalizing the incident. Ridiculous!

— India's Century (@India_Policy)

Dear @timesnow, this #PreityNessMess hashtag is a disgrace to journalism. #shame

— Lyndon Pinto (@PintoLyndon)

24. Zinta released a statement to the media, requesting privacy:

This is a very difficult time for me. I request the media to respect my privacy. My intention isn’t to harm any one but only to protect myself.

25. And published a post via her official Facebook page, explaining her decision to report this case of abuse. It is excerpted below:

I may not be super wealthy and powerful but I have truth by my side and I’ve worked very hard all my life and tried to earn respect for myself as a self made professional. It saddens me that no one at work or around ever stood up for me in the past when i was abused and insulted publicly. This time i was left with no option but to take this stern step.

Ironically what happened at Wankade is being diluted by every other fabricated story about my character except the truth of what happened. I’m sure the witnesses will speak the truth and i trust and believe that the police will do their job fairly and quickly.

I humbly request the media and my supporters to pls focus on the issue and the incident that happened in Wankade and not turn this and me into a TV soap. This is not easy for me and my intention is not to harm anyone but simply to protect myself and to stand up for myself.

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