Ase Wang, Anita Kapoor And Other Local Celebs Speak Out About Their Sexual Harassment

There are a few men in the Singapore entertainment industry notorious for their sexual misconduct.

Whispers have swirled around them for years, but they are still where they have always been – major players in a business where some women are told that saying “no” will cost them their careers.

These men are said to have pressured women to trade sex for career success.

Following the fall from grace of Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein because of allegations of rape and harassment from more than two dozen actresses, awareness of the issue of the sexual exploitation of women in film, television, music, beauty pageants and modelling has never been higher in Singapore.

Weinstein’s downfall came after a New York Times expose earlier this month, alleging his sexual misconduct over three decades.

More women – among them actresses Gwyneth Paltrow and Angelina Jolie – subsequently came forward to say they had been either assaulted or harassed by Weinstein, or pressured to have sex with him for career advantage.

He was fired from the film production company he founded, The Weinstein Company, and his membership to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences was revoked.

Police departments in New York, Los Angeles and London have opened investigations into Weinstein following allegations of sexual assault from a number of women.

The Sunday Times spoke to a range of women and other experts in the entertainment industry here and came away with the impression that there is no one here as violently predatory as Weinstein, who has been accused of sexual assault by actresses Rose McGowan and Asia Argento and of other sexual violations by a range of well-known women.

But sexual harassment happens here nonetheless.

The Weinstein case in the United States has sparked the #MeToo campaign on social media across the world, including Singapore.

Journalists, presenters and film industry professionals have used the hashtag, though sometimes without giving details or in relation to a traumatic childhood encounter with a family member.

In Singapore, sexual predators are not as blatant as Weinstein.

Local men prefer to dangle carrots, such as promises of stardom; or use the stick, by telling the women they will get a reputation for being difficult or unprofessional.

Some might see these power arrangements as consensual – the trading of sex for advancement – but the Association of Women for Action and Research does not share the same view.

Ms Jolene Tan, its head of advocacy and research, says that “bullying behaviour in the workplace – such as shaming employees, belittling them when they reject behaviours they are not comfortable with, or threatening to sabotage their careers – is absolutely a form of workplace harassment”.

She recognises that there is a price to be paid for whistleblowing – an act that might not even lead to punishment for the accused.

Survivors are “vulnerable”, she says, and are left with little choice but to defer to authority. 

Read on and meet the women who spoke out about sexual harassment in Singapore: