Published: Thu, October 18, 2018
Global News | By Blake Casey

#MeToo: MJ Akbar resigns to fight sexual harassment allegations

#MeToo: MJ Akbar resigns to fight sexual harassment allegations

Union minister MJ Akbar resigned on Wednesday, saying he was doing so in order to fight accusations of sexual harassment levied by several women, the most high-profile casualty of a growing #MeToo movement.

The resignation of the editor-turned-politician, who has been accused by multiple women of sexually harassing them, came a day ahead of hearing of a criminal defamation complaint filed by him against Priya Ramani, the first woman journalist who has accused him of sexual misconduct around 20 years ago.

In a statement, Mr Akbar said: "Since I have chose to seek justice in a court of law in my personal capacity, I deem it appropriate to step down from office and challenge the false accusations levied against me, also in a personal capacity".

It seems that the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) is not satisfied with MJ Akbar's resignation as it has called for criminal proceedings against the former Minister of State for External Affairs.

Akbar has filed a defamation suit against her.

Akbar has been a prominent figure in Indian public life for decades as a writer, the editor of national newspapers, a confidant of the former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi and as part of the prime minister Narendra Modi's government. Meanwhile, Ramani asserted that she is looking forward to the day when she will get justice in the court too.

Ramani, who was the first to call him out by name for his allegedly predatory behaviour, said on Twitter, "As women, we feel vindicated by MJ Akbar's resignation".

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Ramani's accusation unleashed a flood of pent-up rage, prompting other women who had worked with Akbar to speak up.

"By ignoring this defining moment, and watching silently while a government minister sues a woman who has spoken out, your government is giving a regressive message: that the fundamental right to life, safety and dignity of a sizeable section of the workforce does not matter", it said.

A microphone and placards are placed on the pavement as Indian journalists attend a protest against what they say is sexual harassment in the workplace in New Delhi, India, October 13, 2018.

Akbar denied Wahab's accusations in a statement Sunday.

The party, government and the top leadership has talked about promoting education for girl child, so we could not have been siding with a minister who has been accused by several women of misconduct. "The resignation of M.J. Akbar is a vindication of the power of truth even if it began with one courageous person speaking up", she tweeted. "He pursued nearly all women in the same way", Sharma had said, "meetings in hotels, dangling plum assignments at them, sending them out of town, and then arranging to meet them in a hotel, or insisting that they take a auto ride with him".

She said that he would often insist on conducting interviews and meetings in hotel rooms.

Dismissing the allegations as "false and fabricated", Akbar said he would take "appropriate legal action" against his accusers and suggested a political conspiracy timed with the elections.

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