Pune’s High Spirits a Downer? Women Accuse Owner of Harassment

Several women are sharing their stories of how the pub owner made them feel uncomfortable by crossing boundaries.

3 min read
Hindi Female

A possible way to fight the culture of sexual harassment is for people to come forward and share the stories of what they have had to endure. And women in Pune are doing just that.

The latest spate of stories come from Pune’s party spot, High Spirits Cafe, where multiple women have accused its owner Khodu Irani of sexually harassing and assaulting them.


Blogger Sheena Dabholkar started tweeting out her experience of harassment at High Spirits.

This opened the floodgate, with several people putting out their experiences, stating eerily similar experiences at the hands of the owner Khodu Irani. Many of them were sent to Dhabolkar who shared them, maintaining people’s anonymity.

All of this prompted an ex-employee to bravely pen down the harassment she faced from Irani while she worked at High Spirits for three years.

I complained about being groped and bullied by my boss to his spouse, and so he (my boss) then poured a pint of beer on my head during my shift and told me that if I went home to change, or ever brought this up to her (his spouse) again, I would lose my job. I took a break to go and cry in the parking lot and came back to my desk... Groping (butt and boob), body-shaming, slut-shaming, pinching, bullying, intense verbal and emotional abuse were part of the daily routine. I was called ugly, fat, and disgusting, on a regular basis.

People crawled out from the depths of the internet to question why did women not report earlier and started stating that the women (and men) were lying about their experiences.

Several women are sharing their stories of how the pub owner made them feel uncomfortable by crossing boundaries.

Comedians and performers who have had their shows at the venue also took to Twitter to boycott Irani and condemn the behaviour.

High Spirits Denies Allegations

Currently, High Spirits Cafe has made its Twitter page private and people have also taken to down-rating the cafe’s Facebook page and have started posting on it to demand answers from the management about all the harassment allegations.

The Quint reached out to High Spirits Cafe and they stated that the allegations have emerged from a single person “with an agenda” trying to “tarnish the reputation of a bar”. Here is their statement:

“We are deeply shocked and saddened by the allegations, and completely deny the same. It appears these lies are emanating from a single person, with an agenda, who appears to be a motivated by the desire to tarnish the reputation of a bar that has an unblemished record of not having any issues like this arise in its premises in all 13 years of its existence. Women’s safety has always been a top priority of ours, and all our efforts have been channelled to ensure that this is not compromised. Right from the point when any customer, man or woman, enters the premises until they leave the outlet, we have tried to secure every aspect of their experience. We have female bouncers for security, female administration staff to ensure assistance and vigilance for female patrons, and even screened rickshaw drivers for female patrons, to make sure women get home safe.”


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Topics:  Sexual Harassment   Pune 

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