World

#MeToo: MJ Akbar resigns to fight sexual harassment allegations

#MeToo: MJ Akbar resigns to fight sexual harassment allegations

Facing multiple allegations of sexual harassment and assault from women journalists as part of the #MeToo movement, Minister of State for External affairs M.J. Akbar resigned from his post Wednesday, saying it was only "appropriate for him to step down from office and challenge the false accusations".

Akbar was accused of sexual harassment from his former colleagues during his stint as an editor in The Asian Age. Abkar issued a statement over his resignation that he is seeking justice in the court for which he is stepping down as the Union Minister.

On Sunday, after returning from a trip overseas, the Minister called the allegations levelled by about 15 women journalists, most of whom who had worked under him in the Asian Age daily, as "wild, baseless and false" and had threatened to sue them.

Akbar, a Minister of State for External Affairs, earlier on Monday filed a criminal defamation complaint against journalist Priya Ramani, who was one of those to accuse him of sexual harassment amid the raging #MeToo movement in the country.

Akbar, who returned from an official tour of Nigeria on Sunday, had issued a statement claiming that the allegations against him are "false and fabricated". The concern among the BJP brass, the leader said, was that the entire government was under the scanner with elections around the corner, though this was Akbar's personal battle to fight.

Akbar's denial and decision to pursue criminal action against Ramani led to a swell of sympathy for his accusers.

Arti Jerath, a journalist and political commentator who is not among Akbar's accusers, said his resignation should have come earlier.

India is traditionally a conservative country, where discussions about sex are still taboo for many and where women have long lagged behind men in workplace participation.

In a Vogue India article published previous year, journalist Priya Ramani described how an acclaimed newspaper editor called her for a job interview to his "plush south Mumbai hotel" when she was 23 and he was 43.




Many women accusing men on social media say they made previous attempts to report sexual misconduct.

Akbar was a prominent editor who founded several publications including the Asian Age.

"As women we feel vindicated by MJ Akbar's resignation".

Three women had accused Khan of sexual harassment the day before the film was halted. Neither the party nor the government-backed Akbar publicly even as the Congress kept demanding Akbar's resignation.

"Eventually the truth prevails", Ghazala Wahab, another journalist who accused Akbar of making physical advances in office, told CNN NEWS 18.

"It is a women's movement for the women and by the women".

Akbar was overseas when the allegations broke and upon his return vowed to fight it out.

Congress spokesperson Priyanka Chaturvedi said she saluted those women who stood on their charges against the minister bravely despite the "brazen" stance taken by the government.


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