Over the past couple of weeks, social media has been flooded with women naming and shaming their abusers. The #MeToo movement has finally made its way to our country and there's one thing it has shown us - harassment, abuse, and violence against women is present in every industry. Powerful and influential men have used their clout to silence women for years, but finally, we see them by the hundreds in full vigour ready to take down a system that has sought to subjugate and control them.
Union Minister, MJ Akbar was accused by multiple women of sexual harassment in a domino effect of #MeToo stories shared online. Two days after suing one of his 20 accusers for defamation, he has resigned from Parliament.
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According to an NDTV report, while announcing his resignation from the post, Akbar referred to his lawsuit. He said, “Since I have decided to seek justice in a court of law in my personal capacity, I deem it appropriate to step down from office and challenge false accusations levied against me, also in a personal capacity.”
— ANI (@ANI) 17 October 2018
On Sunday he was widely seen to have been ignoring calls for his resignation post being called out by multiple women. These have been mostly workplace harassment cases against him with women he had encountered, during his days as an editor. He even said, “Accusations without evidence have become a viral fever.”
On Monday, Akbar sued Priya Ramani, the first woman to name and shame him and said that she has vested interests in maligning his name and reputation. He claims that the entire thing was “wholly and completely false, frivolous, and unjustifiable and scandalous.”
The victim said that she would fight the case but in solidarity, the other 19 journalists said that she wasn’t alone and that they too would testify in court against Akbar.
Image Source: Firstpost
In a statement the journalists’ said, “What Akbar has demonstrated through his legal actions is his refusal to introspect, acknowledge or atone for his actions that have caused immense pain and indeed harmful to many women over the years. He himself, in the meanwhile, continues to enjoy enormous power and privilege as a minister and a Member of Parliament.”
The accusations against him:
Senior journalist, Priya Ramani opened up about her #MeToo story and spoke about how Akbar interviewed her in a hotel, offered her a drink, which she refused, asked her to sit with him on the bed and even sang romantic Hindi songs to her. Then UK-based journalist, Ruth David recounted how he called her into his office with a big wooden door so no one could hear or see what transpired inside where he offered to give her a massage and then forcefully tried to kiss her. Another US-based CNN scribe, Majlie de Puy Kamp revealed how he grabbed her and shoved his tongue down her throat while she was an 18-year-old intern. Saba Naqvi alleged that Akbar often called her to his office and even landed up at her house once. Author and journalist Ghazala Wahab also opened up about her harrowing tale about how he would call her to his office for meaningless talks. She said, "Akbar ran his hands from my breast to my hips."
Since then, several more women have opened up about how he would stare at their breasts when addressing them, he plucked at their bras and made lewd comments and that he would call women to his hotel room on the pretext of discussing work and would make them feel uncomfortable. He would then use his name and power to make it difficult for them in the industry if they refused his advances.
What does this point towards? If these claims are true, it shows a pattern in Akbar's behaviour, a pattern of taking undue advantage of his position, of making women feel uncomfortable and having a sense of entitlement over their bodies.
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