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Akbar-Ramani #MeToo Defamation Case: Lessons for Men from Verdict

Here’re four lessons for men, underlined by the court while acquitting Priya Ramani in the MJ Akbar defamation case.

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Journalist Priya Ramani has been acquitted by the court in the MJ Akbar #MeToo defamation case.

Here are a few lessons for men from the court's verdict which should be taken seriously.

1. You Are Accountable Even After Decades

When Priya Ramani made allegations of sexual harassment against politician and journalist MJ Akbar during the #MeToo movement he retaliated with a defamation case against her.

It was being asked why the matter was raised after 10 years. The court has answered this question.

“(A) Woman has the right to put her grievance on a platform of her choice even after decades... Sometimes a victim may for years not speak up due to the mental trauma.”

2. A Woman's Statement Will Be Upheld in Court

The court has reaffirmed that a woman's statement will not go unheard in the court of law. The biggest take away from the MeToo movement was that the legal system had turned out to be a big failure for survivors and women were treated like culprits. The survivor in the KPS Gill sexual harassment case, Rupan Deol Bajaj, had to wait 17 years for the verdict.

In the Bhanwari Devi gang-rape case, despite the formulation of the Vishakha guidelines, Bhanwari didn't get justice even after 27 years.

The court observed:

“She has full right to put up her case in any platform of her choice.”
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3. One's Dignity Greater Than One's Reputation

In the wake of the #MeToo movement, Priya Ramani had tweeted and tagged MJ Akbar. After her, many other women accused him of harassment. Priya had also mentioned him in Vogue’s article, without naming him. After this, while filing a defamation case, Akbar said that his reputation had been tarnished by the tweet.

In her defence, Ramani claimed that a man accused of sexual harassment cannot claim of having a "stellar reputation”.

Ultimately, the court observed:

“The right to reputation cannot be protected at the cost of right to dignity.”

4. Difference Between Flirting And Harassment Is That of Intention

The last message of the court was that any sexual advancement without permission is sexual harassment.

The only difference between flirting and harassment is the intention. The court said:

“If men want to understand the difference between flirting and harassment, they will have to understand their behaviour first.”

The court clearly suggests that men will have to understand that the limits are decided by women themselves. Men will just have to abstain from crossing those limits.

(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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