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Khushboo Sharma

IWB Blogger

#MeTooIndia Reaches Politics As M.J. Akbar Gets Accused Of Sexual Harassment By 6 Journalists

  • IWB Post
  •  October 10, 2018

#MeTooIndia finally made its way to politics with veteran journalist and minister of state for external affairs M.J. Akbar being accused of sexual misconduct by six journalists.

Priya Ramani, the former Mint Lounge editor, was the first one to name Akbar as a sexual offender through a tweet. She had called out a celebrity editor for his inappropriate behaviour with women journalists in a Vogue India article in October 2017.

“You are an expert on obscene phone calls, texts, inappropriate compliments and not taking no for an answer. You know how to pinch, pat, rub, grab, and assault. Speaking up against you still carries a heavy price that many young women cannot afford to pay. Sometimes you are inconvenienced when the stories get out and you are asked to take a timeout. Often, you are quickly reinstated. Why would you need to evolve, right,” she wrote without naming anyone in the article.

In her recent tweet, she confirmed that M.J. Akbar was the person she had written that Vogue article for. Here is her tweet:

Priya Ramani on Twitter

I began this piece with my MJ Akbar story. Never named him because he didn’t “do” anything. Lots of women have worse stories about this predator-maybe they’ll share. #ulti https://t.co/5jVU5WHHo7

The thread soon caught on and, within an hour of Priya’s tweet, five other journalists came forward with their M.J. Akbar #MeToo stories. Here are the tweets:

prerna singh bindra on Twitter

He was this brilliant,flamboyant #editor who dabbled in politics, who called me-my 1st job- to his hotel room to ‘discuss work’, after i put the edition to bed-read midnight, & made life at work hell when i refused.,cudnt speak up due to various compulsions, but yes #MeTooIndia

prerna singh bindra on Twitter

@It was #MJAkbar I do not say this lightly..i know the consequences of false accusations &it has been now 17 yrs &i have no concrete proof. but i was young, just made features editor, super impressed with our brilliant editor, sensitive writer(read Riot after Riot), 1/4

Sujata Anandan on Twitter

OMG! He turned up at my friend’s house one night for a coffee. As a single mother with a sleeping child she told him she could neither invite him in nor go out with him. From next day he made life hell for her at their workplace https://t.co/3XRj7oWK94

Shuma Raha on Twitter

@prasanto @priyaramani In this case, #MeToo. Year: 1995, Place Taj Bengal, Kolkata. After that encounter, I declined the job offer.

Harinder Baweja on Twitter

So many of us have an MJ story. “Can I come over to your house with a bottle of rum?” he said. NO, was the answer…. Couldnt ‘do’ anything. Some dont get the meaning of No… they move on to the next, dont they https://t.co/eMnO6Y3PNX

anju bharti on Twitter

@priyaramani Mine was in India Today late night party thrown by Aroon Purie, how he got drunk and took females in pool and had ‘fun’ what he said …@anjanaomkashyap @PadmajaJoshi @PreetiChoudhry #Metoo #MeTooIndia

Yesterday, journalist Prem Panicker came up with yet another story of MJ Akbar harassing a young woman in 1994. He shared with The Wire that it was his cousin (now deceased) who was at the receiving end of Akbar’s lecherous advances.

Prem added that “in newsrooms across this country, there are many, similar stories involving Akbar. Not all of them got away by being able to claim a relationship with a journalist.”

However, journalist Ghazala Wahab’s account of her experience that she wrote for with Akbar The Wire came across as the most disturbing one yet.

“He called me in his cabin. I knocked and entered. He was standing next to the door and before I could react he shut the door, trapping me between his body and the door. I instinctively flinched, but he held me and bent to kiss me. With my mouth clamped shut, I struggled to turn my face to one side. The jostling continued, without much success. I had no space to manoeuvre. Fear had rendered me speechless. As my body was pushing against the door, at some point he let me go,” she recollected as one one of many disturbing incidents that happened. You can read the full account here.

H/T: The Wire

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