He Never Stopped: Women Speak Out Against Slam Poet Shamir Reuben

“He had a fixation for 16-year-olds. It was disgusting,” a friend of slam poet Shamir Reuben told The Quint.

4 min read
Hindi Female

“ most of our conversations he (Shamir Reuben) inserted some sexual talk and it was forceful, which made me really uncomfortable.”

A day after women accused Mumbai-based slam poet Shamir Reuben of sexual misconduct, The Quint reached out to some of the women who’ve spoken out to understand their stories.

No formal complaint has been lodged against Reuben yet.

I knew Shamir through It has been almost four years now. He was a poet and seemed like a genuine person. We talked a few times on the website and then eventually ended up exchanging our numbers. During our WhatsApp conversations he made some sexual advances and asked me if I was comfortable with sexting and (explicit) pictures. I was not and shunned him right away. He expressed that he preferred lust over love and ended up telling me how he does this with a lot of girls (who are comfortable with this) in almost a boastful manner.
A woman who spoke out against Shamir Reuben

While speaking to some of the women who have accused Reuben of alleged sexual misconduct and harassment, a strange pattern became apparent. Reuben, according to these women, seemed to have a special corner for 16-year-olds.

I noticed his ‘16’ fixation years ago. I kept checking up on him. He was a friend, I wished well for him. He would show me messages from 16-year-olds who had been egged on by him. It disgusted me. But he never stopped.
Shamir Reuben’s ex-close friend

Reuben’s superficial felt apology came a day after social media was blowing up with stories about him. This is what he said:

“He had a fixation for 16-year-olds. It was disgusting,” a friend of slam poet Shamir Reuben told The Quint.

In his post, Reuben asked women to forgive him as he seems to have ‘inadvertently’ wronged them. The women that The Quint spoke with contradict Reuben’s alleged statements.


Several women also describe Reuben as a man who preyed on girls who were clearly not interested in him.

I was going through a bad break-up and Reuben came to have dinner with me. After a sumptuous meal, we went to Marine Drive and before I knew it, his tongue was in my mouth. I was shocked beyond my wits. I told him to back off and in his typical sly manner he said, ‘You sure you don’t want this?’
Shamir Reuben’s ex-close friend

‘Shamir Reuben was a guy who wouldn’t take no for an answer,’ remarked another 19-year-old. Even if a woman said ‘no’ to him, he wouldn’t completely go away. He would lurk somewhere in their lives.

He sent me a love letter on my 17th birthday, professing his love for me. But when I refuted him, he didn’t stop until I broke up (with someone else). After that, there were constant requests to meet, just the two of us.
Complainant #3

To most in the poetry circuit, it came as a rude shock when the number of women accusing him of sexual misconduct just kept on increasing.

All this while, I thought he had done this with a few women, but when I spoke to more girls, I realised the unbelievable extent of this and warned friends not to meet him. He was an older person prying on younger girls, manipulating them emotionally, using his poetry to seduce them and blatantly disregarding them if they refused. This man is a predator and always has been one. He knew what he was doing and his apology is not heartfelt.
Complainant #4

Reuben has been accused of sending unsolicited, sexually explicit text messages to minors. One women that we spoke to added that for some minors it was never just texts, it was more.

When I was 16, we used to meet often. In public and otherwise. He would steal a kiss or touch me inappropriately, even publicly. I felt immensely uncomfortable and clearly told him so. However, I never raised an alarm with friends around because I didn’t want to feel like the ‘uncool’ one in the group.
Complainant #5

No Means No Means No Means No

A lot of men are conditioned to believe that a woman’s ‘no’ is always negotiable. This could partially be because a large number of women in our society are conditioned against having an agency of their own, says journalist Namita Bhandare. Even if women do assert themselves, their opinions are often dismissed.

In our society, a ‘good girl’ is not expected to want a relationship. She goes to office, she goes to college, she comes home, cooks and keeps her things tidy. Her father tells her to marry a man and she does. A woman is never given the agency to do anything. As a result, when a woman says no, the man doesn’t get it because our culture and movies teach men to never expect women to have an opinion
Namita Bhandare, journalist

Shamir Reuben, another ‘woke’ feminist of our generation, seems to have not understood the meaning of ‘no’. This is perhaps a rude reminder of the fact that even seemingly ‘self-proclaimed feminist men’, can perpetuate the same misogyny in their personal lives that they speak out against in public.

(Names of the complainants have been withheld to protect their privacy.)

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

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Topics:  Aziz Ansari   No Means No   Slam Poetry 

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