TVF founder faces sexual assault allegation - The Fearless Indian
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TVF founder faces sexual assault allegation

  • Editor
  • March 14, 2017
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In a Medium post dated March 12, a user with the pseudonym ‘Indian Fowler’, claiming to be a former employee of The Viral Fever, one of India’s leading online video creators, alleged widespread sexual harassment at the workplace. Leading to a series of events including other female associates also claiming to have been sexually assaulted, and TVF issuing a response that was flayed for being threatening in its language.

Arunabh Kumar, an IIT graduate, founded The Viral Fever in 2011.

The TVF sexual harassment saga began when an author, who goes by the name Indian Fowler, blogged on Medium about the sexual harassment she faced at the hands of Arunabh Kumar while working with The Viral Fever. Titled ‘The Indian Uber-That is TVF’, referring to similar sexual assault allegations brought against an Uber employee in the US by a former techie of the cab aggregator, Indian Fowler detailed the sexual harassment she faced while working with the startup, and specifically accused founder Arunabh Kumar of sexually assaulting her.

The 24-year-old begins by saying Arunabh molested her for the first time when she joined the company in 2014; after that, it became a routine affair. “Arunabh would try to lift me or would try and fall on me pretending he is drunk”, she alleges. When she threatened to go to the cops, Arunabh’s apparent retort was “Police to meri pocket mein hai”. While she quit in 2016, TVF’s legal team allegedly continues to send her reminders about breach of contract, leading to worry that she is still being tracked.

 

The Fearless Indian
                                                                                                                                                                         Source – DNA India

 

As her post went viral, shared and retweeted by netizens, at least three more ex-employees shared similar experiences. Reema Sengupta, who worked on a web series with Arunabh, shared a horrifying account of an encounter with him on facebook. The TVF’s team soon put on an official statement denying the claims as baseless and ludicrous, but it got more attention for the threatening tone of the note.

The surprising and unexpected tales of workplace sexism and harassment have today made their way from the offices of Silicon Valley to India. On the heels of Uber’s massive sexual harassment outburst, one of India’s largest, new-age media and entertainment powerhouse – TVF is now under fire for the same.

A former employee said: “When I got my first project as an assistant, TVF seemed like the coolest workplace. But the dream run ended soon. I was compelled to go to office on a Sunday for an ‘emergency’ meeting. Only Arunabh was there. I must admit I have never liked the man. There was something about him that made my skin crawl. Maybe it was overt PDA, the touching, hugging. Initially, I saw it as a work quirk and gave them the benefit of doubt.

Some claimed TVF does not have an HR, or anti-sexual harassment policies/committee to deal with such incidents. The writer also says she mentioned this to her other bosses but was not taken seriously. On one such occasion when she says she complained to a colleague, Kasturia, he had allegedly brushed it off saying “Duniya hai, Hota hai”.

Further, if proven to be true, these allegations could have far-reaching effects on TVF’s brand image. The said allegation could be more damaging for this fledging media brand as compared the $68 billion ride-hailing giant Uber. This is largely because molestation charges have been brought up against the founder of the company as opposed to an employee, which was the case at Uber. Moreover, considering that TVF is a new-age, for-the-youth media brand, this couldn’t hit its brand image, real hard.

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