A senior bureaucrat in Telangana has sued Outlook magazine for describing her as "eye candy". Smita Sabharwal, additional secretary to the Telangana chief minister, told TV channels that she found the remarks against her "sexist" and "demoralising."
"It is a matter of professional pride. I have spent 14 long years in service. The write up hurt very badly. It made me think if they can do this to a bureaucrat, who is doing a serious job, possibly women across will be subjected to this sort of yellow journalism... and we must step up and put an end to it," Sabharwal told NDTV.
In its July 6 edition, Outlook had published a snippet titled 'No Boring Babu' in its regular 'Deep Throat' column. Without naming Sabharwal it spoke about how a senior bureaucrat makes a "fashion statement" with her saris and serves as "eye candy" at meetings.
It also allegedly carried a caricature portraying her walking the ramp at a fashion show with Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao and other politicians leering at her.
38-year old Sabharwal told reporters that the illustration was about her attendance at a recent fashion show in 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," she told BBC Hindi.
In response, Outlook said it was a satirical piece that was not intended to be derisive or derogatory. Nevertheless, the magazine has removed the piece from its website.
Hyderabad police said two city-based advocates have also filed a complaint against the magazine alleging the article made "objectionable" remarks against a woman IAS officer and "damaged the reputation" of the chief minister.
"No case has been registered so far. We made general diary (GD) entry of the complaint and are consulting legal authorities. Further action will be taken based on the legal opinion," inspector S Krishna Prasad told PTI.
Sabharwal has found support on Twitter with many criticising the magazine for its "sexist" stand.
Yet the flip side of this controversy is that Outlook’s correspondent in Hyderabad Madhavi Tata has reportedly been subjected to personal attacks on social media, and her physical safety has been threatened, according to the magazine.