India

Smita Sabharwal: Indian 'eye candy' official sues Outlook

Smita Sabharwal Image copyright Other
Image caption Smita Sabharwal works in office of the Telangana chief minister

An Indian bureaucrat is suing one of the country's leading news magazines after it described her as "eye candy".

Outlook magazine also carried an illustration showing Smita Sabharwal walking the ramp at a fashion show with her political bosses leering at her.

Ms Sabharwal, who works in the office of the chief minister of southern Telangana state, told BBC Hindi the remark was "sexist" and "demoralising".

The magazine told the BBC they were yet to receive any legal notice from her.

"She makes a fashion statement with her lovely saris and serves as 'eye candy' at meetings," the magazine had reported in a recent post, without naming her. It added that her portfolio "is a mystery" and what "she exactly does is a puzzle".

Ms Sabharwal, 38, said the illustration was about her attendance at a recent fashion show in the Indian city of Hyderabad.

"What disturbs me the most is the suggestion that a woman is able to rise in her career because of her beauty. It is very demoralising for the thousands of women stepping out of their homes and making their career," Ms Sabharwal told BBC Hindi's Divya Arya.

Describing the magazine's "outright sexist attitude" as "hurtful", she said she wanted Outlook to apologise.

"In all my 14 years of working as a civil servant, I have never been discriminated [against] or made to feel any lesser because I am a woman or good-looking. It is only now, when I have become the first woman to be appointed to a chief minister's office that I am getting this.

"I have broken a glass ceiling, and clearly some people are not happy with it," she added. "My work is being undermined by some jealous elements and the lazy irresponsible attitude of the magazine.

"I found that this magazine has ignored my professional track record and tries to insinuate total blatant lies and I cannot let them get away with this kind of rubbish journalism. At the same time, apart from hurting my professional pride, I also felt they insulted women in general across India, across the world and they have to be brought to book for this."

Ms Sabharwal has found some support on social media, with many criticising the magazine:

Image copyright Tweet
Image copyright Tweet

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