We're happy MJ Akbar did correct thing, expect him to drop bogus defamation case, say 20 journalists from Asian Age

FP Staff
Akbar’s exit is as much of a jolt to the political species as it is to the exalted profession of journalism, which had engendered and tolerated sexual harassment of female subordinates by their male bosses. And the minister’s resignation is not just a huge victory for the #MeToo crusade: it will also go down in history as a humongous landmark in the Indian women’s fight for their rights.

After MJ Akbar announced his decision to quit as the junior external affairs minister on Wednesday, 20 of his former women colleagues€"who previously wrote a petition describing his behaviour and condemning his alleged sexual advances €"issued a joint statement welcoming the move.

"We are happy that Mr Akbar finally did the correct thing, and in the light of all that has emerged in the last couple of days, expect that he will also drop the bogus criminal defamation case against Priya Ramani," the women said in a joint statement.

The 67-year-old journalist-turned-politician's sudden announcement to resign came a day ahead of hearing of a criminal defamation complaint filed by him against Ramani, the first journalist who accused him of sexual misconduct. In a brief statement, Akbar said he had decided to seek justice in a court of law in his personal capacity.

In their petition, the 20 women€"who were in Akbar's teams during his time at The Asian Age€"asked the court to consider their testimony about the "culture of casual misogyny, entitlement and sexual predation that he engendered and presided over" at the organisation.

Over the past 10 days, several women came forward to narrate their experiences of alleged sexual harassment at the hands of Akbar during his days as editor of several mainstream publications. Following these allegations, Opposition parties as well as many media organisations demanded his resignation.

Akbar, however, denied the allegations. Hours after returning from a trip to Africa, the Union minister issued a statement on Sunday trashing the charges, saying accusations without evidence has become a "viral fever" among some sections.

With inputs from PTI

Network 18, of which Firstpost is a part, has received complaints of sexual harassment as well. The complaints which are within the purview of the workplace have been forwarded to our PoSH committee for appropriate action.

Also See: 'Right decision': Women welcome MJ Akbar's resignation as Union minister; Priya Ramani says she feels 'vindicated'

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