'No Room For Sexual Harassers': Journos Ask WION to End MJ Akbar's Employment
mk akbar wion open letter journalists
At least 150 journalists and media personalities sought WION, an English news channel run by Zee Media, to stop the employment of former Union Minister and editor MJ Akbar, who was accused of sexual harassment by several women.
In an open letter on 9 September, they also called for the Editors Guild to take up the matter.
While the media conglomerate has not officially announced his appointment, he has been attending the channel's editorial meetings since 16 August, Newslaundry first reported.
At least 12 women journalists had accused Akbar of sexually harassing them, while he was working as an editor of a newspaper, after journalist Priya Ramani called him out publicly in 2018.
"There should be no room for sexual harassment and sexual harassers at workplaces. Journalists are in the business of speaking out. By allowing someone accused by multiple people of sexual harassment in its newsroom, Wion and Zee TV are violating the responsibility they have to journalists who carry out the important mission of informing the public," the journalists said.
"Putting MJ Akbar in a position of power will have a chilling effect of silencing its own and other journalists against abuse," the letter added.
Who Signed The Open Letter?
Senior journalists including Barkha Dutt, Harinder Baweja, Dhanya Rajendran, Kavitha Iyer, Lakshmy Venkateshwaran, Maya Mirchandani, Namita Bhandare, Rohini Mohan, Pallavi Gogoi, Rituparna Chatterjee, were among those who signed.
Singer and a prominent #MeToo voice Chinmayi Sripada and former Amnesty India head Aakar Patel also signed the open letter.
'Make Newsrooms Safe'
The signatories also called for the Editors Guild of India, which suspended MJ Akbar in 2018, to ask every news organisation to bar him because a 'clear, meaningful message' needs to be sent to 'young female journalists.
Accusations Against MJ Akbar
From intimidating them at work with sexual innuendos, to violating consent, conducting uncomfortable interviews – the women journalists have come forward and shared detailed accounts of the alleged harassment.
A former colleague of Akbar's, journalist Ghazala Wahab in an article in The Wire alleged that her last six months at The Asian Age "were pure hell" when he repeatedly "sexually harassed and molested" her.
Another journalist, UK-based Ruth David, recalled how Akbar stood behind her and offered massages and tried to kiss her.
"Akbar tried to kiss me against my will," Ruth wrote, in 2018.
In an article in The Quint, Swati Gautam, a survivor, wrote:
"The door opened and the bathrobe welcomed me. Mr Bathrobe was on the bed while I was kind of squirming on the single sofa in the room. Bending down, he rolled the glass in his hand towards me. And I kept looking at it near my feet, petrified and totally lost."
Akbar finally resigned from his post as Union minister, nine days after the first allegation became public.
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