M.J. Akbar resigns from government amid #MeToo storm

MJ Akbar has been accused of sexual harassment by at least 11 women journalists

MJ Akbar has been accused of sexual harassment by at least 11 women journalists

The string of accusations against Akbar began when journalist Priya Ramani identified him on Twitter on October 8 as the unnamed editor that she had described in a story about newsroom sexual harassment published in Vogue previous year.

India is considering tightening sexual harassment laws, government officials said on Thursday, after an avalanche of complaints of abuse lodged by women in recent weeks thrust the issue to the forefront of politics.

Senior advocate Geeta Luthra, representing the former minister of state for external affairs, started referring to alleged controversial tweets of Ramani to claim that cognisable damage to Akbar's reputation has been made.

In conclusion, the journalists warned the government: "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".

In her account, Patel recounted Akbar's persistent advances.

Akbar's resignation is the most high-profile departure since a delayed #MeToo movement took off on social media in India earlier this month.

Luthra, in specific, pointed out three tweets of Ramani dated October, 8, 10 and 12, and argued how they "lowered his reputation".

The charges range from "predatory behaviour" to sexual assault.

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Earlier, on 14 October, Akbar released a statement asserting that these allegations are being levelled only due to the upcoming elections.

One of them, Ghazala Wahab, editor of Force magazine, had worked for Akbar at the Asian Age newspaper between 1994 and 1997.

On Sunday, Akbar questioned why the women who had accused him did not report the incidents previously.

The spark for India's #MeToo movement was lit by Bollywood actress Tanushree Dutta, who named actor Nana Patekar for sexually harassing her during a film shoot. It is utterly freakish to believe that anything could have happened in that tiny space, and, moreover, that no one else in the vicinity would come to know, in the midst of a working day.

"What Akbar has demonstrated through his legal actions is his refusal to introspect, acknowledge or atone for his actions that have caused vast pain and indeed harm to many women over the years", the statement said.

As many as 20 women came out with their stories of horror faced at the hands of the BJP leader.

The resignation came a day before a Delhi court is to take up the defamation case filed by Akbar against one of the journalists.

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