All posts by iwasharassed

I’m a European photographer and want to share my unpleasant experience with Manik Katyal.

Last year he approached me on Facebook just wanting to seek a collaboration with me. The conversation quickly turn very friendly, his tone was a bit too friendly, sprinkling his conversation with some ‘baby’ and ‘darling’ – at this point I assumed it was like that at this level of the profession. He then asked me for my number to be able to communicate through ‘what’s app’. It is from this moment that his way of communicating became totally inappropriate. From sexual propositions to graphically describing sexual acts, his vocabulary was very trashy and raw. He also quickly propose to have skype sessions, which I refused. Manik has definitely an issue concerning his vision of women and sex, but he has also an issue with authority, I have been told by him ‘who are you to talk to me like that’, he admitted being under the influence of alcohol and weed but I could sense that it was his vision of his ‘place’ in the photographic world. He then blocked me from Facebook because it was not going the way he wanted. At the same time I was learning that he had approached in the same way other of my female photographer friends but they quickly send him off. He is not the only photographer or editor who was more interested by seeing flesh than photographs and not be the last. We should not let the pseudo or real status/influence of a man taking over basic rules of respect. Of course we should not be impressed by any professional status at the point to let someone crossing the limits of decency. But first of all, men of this profession have the right to comment or appreciate only our creative production. Too many allow themselves to cross limits with which you have to be ok because otherwise ‘you are not cool’…

What EMAHO taught me – Surabhi Chowdhury

I started interning with EMAHO, back in 2012. It seemed like such an interesting platform since I had wanted to get into photography, and after speaking to Manik Katyal on the phone, after connecting with him on Facebook, I thought that I am in for something that is going to help me build my plans better. And Katyal promised a lot.

Little did I know what he was up to, most of the times: “Hey, you free? Why don’t you come over to my place. There is beer in the fridge, and I am all alone.” Okay, it happened once, and I refused. Twice, I refused. Thrice, I refused. Fourth time, I had to make an imaginary boyfriend to lay him off. I thought he’d diminish my name in the industry before I could even make a name, since I thought he was very well connected to so many photographers, artists and musicians. So I just kept quiet and denied his advances. All this was via Facebook.

I met him once, in the company of a friend, and that friend himself told me that he felt the strangest vibes from Katyal. I did too. And I knew he was a disgusting man. I had to intern from home, thank God for that, but that never stopped Manik from saying things like: “So what if you have a boyfriend? I am just asking you to have sex. He doesn’t have to know.” Of course, my boyfriend was imaginary. But Manik Katyal wasn’t, unfortunately. He crossed the line when he asked me this. And I denied, as usual.

And I left EMAHO for good. I haven’t told people about this, ever. Always told them to stay away from this man. He deleted me off of his list on Facebook because I know, and he knows too, that he said stuff and wanted to do things that could land him in the bloody JAIL, but he’s still as disgusting, prune and a downright asshole. The only thing I learnt from EMAHO is to stay away from EMAHO and Manik Katyal. For good.


For months I’m spreading the word as much as I can, everywhere I can but I had the feeling that some people thought I was just a bad tongue… They couldn’t believe it.

– Francoise Callier

Some years ago, I was naive enough to believe his bullshit and laughed off his inappropriate FB messages as I was tricked into thinking he had some clout and connections within the photo industry. I was just starting my freelancing career and in attempts to not upset a ‘bigwig’ in the industry, I didn’t make much of his advances, trying to convince me to come to Delhi, to intern at Emaho, telling me about the Magnum photographers he was curating and the workshops he was teaching at. On the contrary, I had some of my work published on Emaho about three years ago, a couple years ago I stopped responding to all messages. It kind of makes me feel shitty right now but it is what it is. When you’re used to dealing with sexual harassment in India on a daily basis, this kind of seemed negligible to me. Many other women have had much worse experiences of which I only recently found out about. Whether you’ve faced it or not, it’s time we stand up for each other. There are many people in the industry who knew about it but said nothing, instead patted each other on the backs, jerked each other off and didn’t warn another woman about it. That needs to stop.

– Karen Dias

Good to see that people are finally speaking out against this asshole. He tried similar things with me, despite me shooting him down every time he said something that made me uncomfortable (which, to him, was ‘flirting’). And now that I go back to check my Inbox for the messages, it looks like he has deactivated that profile and moved on to a new one.

– Disha Raychaudhuri

12193631_10153681718760768_2373745277051903499_nHe tells random people on facebook chat how they have a “cute ass” and when they don’t take it as a compliment, he says ‘I’m a photo editor and so couldnt keep it to myself ” – Somya Lakhani

here’s a thin line between flirting and harassing, and I know it too damn well. In all honesty, Manik Katyal’s “cute ass” remark to me on Facebook chat didn’t offend me. It was odd and I could totally live without it, I must add. It was odd because he didn’t know me, we were just friends on Facebook, and after days of him saying “hi” and “hello” and “coffee” and this and that, and getting almost no response for me, he still felt he could comment on my behind, like it’s the most obvious thing to say to a stranger. Anyway, not offended. What did offend me, and still does, is the line that follows my displeasure in that chat — “I am a photo editor so couldn’t keep it in”. That is misuse of power now. You don’t justify a comment on my bum by talking about your profession, like your seniority should intimidate me, like this is a reminder to me that I should take it as just “banter”. Well, no sir. Is there a reason people say ” don’t get offended “? Because I sure as hell don’t get it. Just because you didn’t mean to offend me doesn’t mean I wasn’t offended, pointed out a cartoon strip on Facebook a couple of months ago. So, there goes his ” don’t get offended ” remark after the “cute ass” one. Now, why were we Facebook friends. I am a journalist with a daily, a features writer with them, keeping a tab on music, cinema, photography and so on. Emaho magazine and Manik Katyal are obviously names I have read, and my Facebook account is full of people who are part of my industry or a similar associated circle. I didn’t think twice when he sent me the friend request. I am explaining this because I know that a lot of people (the insensitive douchey kinds) will wonder why I call him a stranger and still had him on Facebook. Well here’s the reason. Unfortunately, since I posted Aritry’s incident on Facebook, three of my friends have come up and told me their stories. To be honest, Manik didn’t bother me in a similar fashion again. But it boils my blood to read other testimonies. I urge you all to come out and talk about this. This is obviously not limited to the photographer community, since I am not one, and two of my friends are running start-ups. It needs to reach a bigger audience. Power to you all!

– Somya Lakhani

So while ostensibly discussing photography and Emaho which had just been launched, he would send me playful (for me more like offensive) messages on Facebook like ‘let’s get drunk and see where this goes’ and ‘come over or invite me’. I would keep putting it off politely, being used to ignoring advances than dealing with them properly. I started ignoring him when he sent messages like ‘birthday kiss?’ – I remember making an emoji for a kick coz I couldn’t deal with telling him to shut up. He ofcourse said something on the lines of ‘oh so u like it wild’ and that he likes to keep trying. Finally I Unfriended him when he messaged me about my Hotel Room photo series (which I had put up on Facebook) saying ‘I’d like to be in those beds’ or some such.

– Niha Masih

Someone i knew had a French friend who was dating Manik Katyal of Imawhore Magazine or whatever i dont care. I was as usual at a party she dragged me to. It was actually at gk the earlier house of Ritika. Manik Katyal pretended to be fellow introvert and after he assumed enough time had gone past for me to be in senses (i was v bored that day and not carrying and not interested in asking anyone else.).

Anyway this ****face was observing me the whole time, trying to converse with me and another girl, as if the exchange had been a trilateral one including him as plainly as day. I said something. As per usual society, he manipulated my silence well enough to rile me up about why I’m not dancing.

Like a great motivational coach he insisted on me letting inhibitions go and just dance. The conversation like my 3rd that night, was about how I’m bored, and he invited himself to various assumptions. Anyway long story short, he just randomly fed his face to mine and before i had time to gauge what the **** happened, we were already on the level of him assuring me that it shouldn’t be weird. Then he asked (made me agree) to dance and i felt that i could hang about and escape to the loo. He started dancing with me in true indian boy fashion, literally making me struggle to make calculated moves like the insides of a lock, to get out of situation without being rude. Because of course. Then again in a room full of people i had met completely because my friend insisted that he would give a ride to the party prior, he locked me in what i shall describe as the worst feeling of suffocation a man besides the usual suspects who you trust to clothe, feed and rear you because you belong to them, has made me feel.

I told my friends about this second attempt in the whole night when he studied me, tried to isolate me from group by forcing demands on me to explain my personality to him.

Then of course there are other stories i have and well. He’s a cunt. Not everyone in your list is awesome. I know previous generations of indians just discovered sex but for fuck’s sake if you are someone amongst the string of people he’s violated and annoyed, speak up now along with sharing this post.

– RP

Breaking the silence – Aritry Das

Breaking the Silence: Sometimes we repress our experiences because of trauma. This one day I was running out of a homestay in Dover Lane feeling violated. Much later I had managed to forget what caused that and lock the memory up in a distant silent box. A certain event has brought back those silenced memories now and age has taught me to see them in a new light.
Almost three years back I was interning for Emaho Magazine. I was recruited by its founding member Manik Katyal who was a facebook friend of mine. This one time when he came down to Calcutta for some work, he wanted to meet me and had asked me to go to where he was staying (in Dover Lane). Even after I had let him know that I was not comfortable going to his place as I did not know him much, he insisted that I do so. Being a timid, young girl at that point, I did go. Did not want to offend him – I took him as someone superior to me in rank.
When I was in Manik’s room he offered me a drink. I did not want to drink, but he coerced me into drinking anyway. Then, without asking for my permission he started to get physical with me and chose to ignore the fact that I have said NO a several time. A NO is a NO is a NO. But I gave in after a while. I failed to fight back in a strong manner back then. Do I regret it? Yes, I do.
I managed to stop him after a while and left his place. Later on whenever I thought about it I felt disgusted. I knew something was wrong about all of that. Then I was enlightened by the concept of “CONSENT” and structures of sexual harassment and gender oppression.
All of this came back to me with a critical understanding as I saw Emaho has now created a committee to prevent Discrimination and Sexual Harassment. The hypocrisy of all of it is just too much and I have also got to know that fact that he has done this shit to a lot of women. I was not the only person. It just pissed me off and I decided to share my experience.
Sharing the story of your oppression, I believe, only empowers you, and others who have faced the same. I am writing this for all the women whom he has done similar things to, and this is to let you know sister, we all stand together in this and we must stand tall. There’s no shame. However, there is much anger and let’s spread that anger.
#SurvivorsAgainstEmaho #ShameManikKatiyal

What is this ?

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What a joke !!!!!!
Golden piece of advice for obsessive serial sexual harassers.
When you are caught and someone has taken a screenshot of you doing terrible things what you do is come out in public saying your email and Facebook was hacked and make a sexual harassment redressal committee where people can write if they feel offended.
And, I am shocked to see how the photographic community at large is exceptionally quite about this whole thing. Moreover, some of them are even congratulating him for starting a committee like this. Wow ! Like really ? Bravo people !

This is all in defence of whatever this guy has done for so long in the name of promoting Indian or Asian photography without knowing jack shit. I am actually quite ashamed that I had helped him at one one point. Both of us knew him long back before he became who he is today.
Anyways, Its good if this committee or whatever it is called actually works and all the women who have been harassed can write to people.
This is a screenshot where he is saying that his electronic database including email and social media was compromised. And what a timing. All this he realised now only after feeling the heat and after Colin Pantall’s post:

Hope he learns something from all this. The photographic community at large has been extremely tolerant. And, if he changes it will be a good thing. I hope he takes all of this in the right way.


-Ronny Sen

I would like to thank Mr. R.K.Katyal, Director of Emaho Creation Pvt. Ltd for taking this very bold initiative towards preventing discrimination & sexual harassment in Photography.
I am not very sure what discrimination is being referred to here, but certainly hope that the sexual harassment aspect is dealt with strongly and the culprit(s) brought to the fore.
Everyone knows how guilty the said person is, people have seen screenshots of his doings, screenshots of his messages. The only reason why he is roaming around free, is cause no woman has gone public with the evidence.
-Arko Datto

his has been going on for a while now and at this point, not having done anything, I personally feel like an accomplice in this act. I and many around me have been aware of this situation – yet we move on, ignorant and excusing ourselves from getting involved because we need one of the people directly affected to stand up and make the accusation. They have all our support and if no one wants to stand up and say this out loud then we should all move on, stop bickering and embarrassing each other. Whoever knows these people should urge them to make a decision and if they decide to do so, we are here to offer our full support. If not, we should stop this here.
– Sumit Dayal

I believe that if this is shared widely enough at this point, it is going to send a strong message to those that should stand up that they are not alone and that they have our full support. also, in an industry which reeks of an absence of any form of support (seriously, can we even talk of photography being a viable industry at this point in time?) what is this full support that we speak of? perhaps it is time to enunciate tangibly what this support really is?

also on a related note, there is the pressing issue that there is no union body of any form to legitimately speak for the rights of photographers in this country. perpetrators would not be roaming around with impunity if we had one. such a body would be crucial in representing and lending the support that we speak of. perhaps it is time again to discuss this and bring it to the fore.
-Arko Datto

I have known at least four different women who have been, in their words, sexually harassed by this creep. At that time, they weren’t comfortable with me publicly shaming him, but I have spoken to a few now, and have seen screenshots.

Sexually harass several women and then claim that your account was hacked. While you are at it, also make a committee that ‘stands up’ against sexual harassment in photography. Irony much?
I have known of several incidents in which Manik Katyal, Editor in Chief or something like that, of Emaho Magazine, has allegedly sexually harassed women. That I have not spoken out earlier makes me feel, strangely enough, like an accomplice. But the silence wasn’t by choice, but because the women who had managed to ward him off, weren’t comfortable, at that time, about speaking out in public.
Probably, there is strength in numbers. This requires each one of us to speak up and share this widely, and more importantly, for the women who have suffered this creep, to come out and talk. The fraternity here will support you, I’m sure.
For someone who has no knowledge of photography—one had to explain him what Magnum Photos is and who the legends of documentary photography are in a workshop in 2012—it’s laughable how he is supposedly an opinionmaker, a so-called authority on some important panels and juries. But lack of photographic gravitas aside, it’s time that the international community, and the one back home, speaks out against someone who seems to be a habitual sexual offender.

– Raj Lalwani

We have been hearing about this for many months now. Good to see that this is finally being brought out in the open. Huge thanks @ Ronny Sen and everyone else for taking this up. It was high time. If some of us know people who have been harassed, it is proof enough. Full support from Madhuban and me, and seriously hoping it doesn’t end up only as a facebook thread. Wish we can translate this into some concrete action against the culpable. Hopefully, the whole artist/photography community here and elsewhere will respond, because the issue is not limited to the photographic community only.
– Manas Bhattacharya

Thanks for sharing this Ronny Sen – long has this charlatan (as a friend of mine keeps calling him) has charmed and gotten away with just a loud voice and some gas… This sexual harassment controversy and then the hypocrisy of the “committee” for its prevention should really be dealt with severely – this man should crawl under a rock and never emerge. I feel ashamed for helping him when he hounded me, so that he could get contacts and advice in order to “give a voice to Indian photography”
-Karan Vaid

We all have been hearing stories for a while now and its good that women are speaking up.. I have heard a lot of stories from friends about Manik Katiyal and things he has been saying to women photographers all over the world.. Some of them even have screen shots to prove this.. Evidence aside this committee does look like a desperate attempt to cover up his act .. I really hope all the organisations in the photography community start doing background checks before they bring people on board as juries .. Internet is a delusional place and a person might look good on paper and seem like they know everyone in the industry because they have photos with editors / curators but the reality can be very different.

– Asmita Parelkar

No one gives a shit about Manik Katyal! I don’t know what world he lives in thinking that he may be able to get away with all of this – running away into the mountains and claiming his account was hacked is bullshit. Issuing a sexual harassment policy with a bogus email is even more crappy. All the women need to know that, 1. you need to speak up because it’s important that this serial offender is tackled for good. 2. you only have all our support to do this as quietly and sensibly as possible and 3. no one and I mean no one has the right to judge you. Don’t be afraid to speak.
– Mansi Midha

DON’T BE AFRAID TO SPEAK. Their is a huge community of people ready to stand behind you and support you.

What follows is an amalgamation of first hand accounts.