How Akbar’s Defence Sounds Against Sexual Harassment Allegations

Contrary to what MJ Akbar says, there is a story – the story of over 12 women fighting the might.

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Editor extraordinaire, celebrated author, and now a former Union minister MJ Akbar is also, most importantly, an accused in multiple incidents of sexual harassment. After almost 214 hours after the allegations, Akbar resigned from his post on Wednesday, 17 October.

At least twelve women journalists have accused the recently-resigned Minister of State for External Affairs Akbar of sexually harassing them, while he was working as an editor of a newspaper.

From intimidating them at work with sexual innuendoes, to violating consent, conducting uncomfortable interviews – the women have come forward and shared detailed accounts of the alleged harassment.


A Case of Defamation Follows Statement

A day after finally breaking his silence on the allegations, MJ Akbar on Monday, 15 October, filed a complaint against Priya Ramani, the first woman to publicly call him out, for criminal defamation under Section 500 of the IPC.

The 41-page complaint was filed at the Patiala House District Court on his behalf by the law firm Karanjawala & Co, and argues that Ramani “willfully, deliberately, intentionally and maliciously” defamed Akbar on “wholly and completely false, frivolous, unjustifiable and scandalous grounds”.

Earlier, on 14 October, Akbar released a statement asserting that these allegations are being levelled only due to the upcoming elections.

“Why has this storm risen a few months before a general election? Is there an agenda? You be the judge. These false, baseless and wild allegations have caused irreparable damage to my reputation and goodwill,” he said. He also repeatedly insisted that he “never did anything.”


Accusers Ready to Fight

However, the women who have accused Akbar are ready to fight. And their fight is not theirs alone.

Seventeen other women journalists who have worked with The Asian Age newspaper, which Akbar edited, came out in support of their colleague Ramani, said a joint statement issued by them.

"Ramani is not alone in her fight. We would request the honourable court hearing the defamation case to also consider the testimonies of sexual harassment of some of us at the hands of the petitioner, as also of the other signatories who bore witness to this harassment," the journalists said in the joint statement undersigned by them.

Contrary to what MJ Akbar says, there is a story – the story of over 12 women fighting the might.

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Topics:  MJ Akbar 

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