Minister resigns amid sexual assault allegations by 35 women

18 October, 2018, 01:08 | Author: Sheila Harris
  • Indian minister in #MeToo storm announces resignation

The #MeToo movement, which began in the USA more than a year ago in response to accusations of sexual harassment and abuse by powerful men in the entertainment industry, gained traction in India last month after former actor Tanushree Dutta accused her co-star Nana Patekar of sexual harassment on the sets of a film in 2008.

In a statement that was tweeted by news agency ANI, Akbar said that he was resigning since he had made a decision to seek justice in a court of law in a personal capacity.

Ramani had recently identified Akbar as the unnamed editor in an article she had written in Vogue in October 2017, where she recounted her interview with him in a hotel.

The 67-year-old journalist-politician's resignation as minister of state for external affairs comes a day ahead of the hearing of his criminal defamation case against journalist Priya Ramani, one of the women who accused him of sexual misconduct, at Delhi's Patiala House court.

Congress leader Ragini Naik accused the Modi government of being "misogynist" which "deceived" women voters who placed their faith, reposed their trust in the BJP in 2014.

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

Earlier this week, Akbar had filed a criminal defamation case against journalist Priya Ramani for naming him as an alleged sexual predator.

"I am ready to fight allegations of defamation laid against me, as truth and the absolute truth is my only defence", she said.

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Sexual harassment cuts across party lines: On Monday, the leader of the Congress Party's student wing quit after misconduct allegations against him emerged. They also have often cited their failed efforts to get justice through regular channels.

He later called the allegations of sexual harassment against him as "fabricated" and "spiced up".

Meanwhile, Indian journalist Sucheta Dalal called for crowd-funding Ramani's legal costs in a Twitter post that received more than 3,000 likes, although an official fundraising campaign is yet to be set up.

"What Mr Akbar has demonstrated through his legal actions is his refusal to introspect, acknowledge or atone for his actions that have caused enormous pain and indeed harm to many, many women over the years", the 20 journalists willing to testify in court said in a statement.

Ramani's husband, journalist Samar Halarnkar, wrote a column on Tuesday saying the lawsuit was being used to "intimidate her, and through her to intimidate the others who have spoken up and silence others who have not".

The allegations against Akbar even seemed to divide the ranks of India's government, which is led by the Bharatiya Janata Party and usually stays on message.

"The only office where I worked with her was that of The Asian Age".

Akbar was accused of sexual harassment from his former colleagues during his stint as editor of The Asian Age.

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