Recently, the virtual world suddenly went viral about an anonymous blog post alleging the founder of The Viral Fever(TVF) – Arunabh Kumar of sexual harassment. Having just celebrated Women’s Day and the important role women play in our lives, not only did the post break the Internet but also left most of us shocked. The blogger claimed to be an ex-TVF employee who during her stint of two years at the company was constantly harassed by Mr. Kumar.
TVF has been quite popular with the youth with their refreshing content in the web series space. As a newly converted TVF consumer, the incident came as a shocker to me as well. What was more disturbing was, the other non-anonymous accounts of women who faced other forms of non-consensual harassment from Kumar which followed the original post. While the anonymous post might have left a little uncertainty on the authenticity of the author and her post, the posts that followed by other women who worked with him in past and their horrifying experiences with him cannot be ignored. The number of women accusing Kumar of his actions have reached 50 as of now.
While TVF was quick to respond with their statement, it sounded more of a threat to the original anonymous author rather than talk about launching an investigation into the matter. The response surely did cause a lot of harm to the goodwill earned by the company so far.
This was followed by statements made by almost every employee of the company standing by and in favour of Kumar and some even personally vouched for Kumar and his moral character. What was even worse was the response of Kumar.
“Social media has already declared me an offender, but I am ready to address all the allegations against me. I am open to receiving a police complaint so that I can respond legally as well.
TVF is bigger than me. I am a heterosexual, single man and when I find a woman sexy, I tell her she’s sexy – but this is only done in my personal capacity. I compliment women in my personal space and not at the workplace. Is that wrong?”
Really? Calling someone ‘sexy’ in an official environment and justifying it as a compliment? Not only does his statement sound creepy and self-centred but also makes the reader lean more towards believing exactly what he’s been accused of!
Of course the second statement that was issued by TVF five days later does speak of how they could have handled the situation better instead of issuing a response that was ‘quick and emotional’. But the damage had already been done. It would have been wiser for the company to have taken a neutral stand and immediately appointing a committee to investigate into the matter. That would at least have let viewers have faith in TVF as a company, the company we’ve all been looking up to not only for the path-breaking content they’ve been providing but also for being unbiased and composed under the stressful situation.
Whether the anonymous allegations will turn out to be baseless or will Arunabh Kumar be found guilty, only time will tell. However, TVF unfortunately, has now moved from being the most looked up to company to being the most dreaded company to work for.