#MeToo movement: Journalist accuses Ex-Editor, Minister of State MJ Akbar of sexual harassment

pollution level increse in Noida Air become poisonous
By: ABP News Bureau
Updated: 23 Oct 2018 12:15 PM
NEW DELHI: As the Me Too movement in India gathers momentum, fresh allegations of sexual harassment have been levied against former journalist and the current Minister of State for External Affairs MJ Akbar. Female journalist Priya Ramani published a detailed account of him violating consent when he was a journalist.

In her 2017 article titled “To the Harvey Weinsteins of the world” where she never named Akbar ‘because he didn’t “do” anything’, she said that he conducted uncomfortable interviews with female journalists in hotel rooms.

The article was an open letter to “Dear Male Boss” that referred to a job interview in a hotel room in Mumbai. Ramani said, “You’re an expert on obscene phone calls, texts, inappropriate compliments and not taking no for an answer.”

In her article, she said, “I escaped that night, you hired me, I worked for you for many months even though I swore I would never be in a room alone with you again”.

After Priya Ramani’s accusation, several female colleagues have come forward as part of India’s Me Too movement

MJ Akbar is the founding editor of The Telegraph and was with the newspaper till 1989 and was associated with leading media houses and periodicals in India including India Today, Headlines Today, The Telegraph, The Asian Age and Deccan Chronicle',' among others. Akbar was inducted into the Union Council of Ministers for External Affairs by PM Narendra Modi on 5 July 2016.

Akbar found support in fellow Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) MP Udit Raj who questioned why it took 10 years for the woman to make sexual charges. He doubted whether the truth in the case would be properly investigated. “One needs to realise the degree of damage caused to a person facing such false accusations. This (#MeToo) is the beginning of a wrong trend,” he tweeted and reiterated the same in a telephonic conversation to ABP News.

Congress spokesperson Shobha Ozha slammed Udit Raj for defending Akbar.

"Will Udit Raj say the same if the woman was his relative? Be it Kathua or Unnao, BJP leaders are involved in such crimes. Here MJ Akbar does not accept his mistake but gets support from another BJP leader, she told ABP News. 

Below is the full text of the article -

Dear Male Boss,

You taught me my first workplace lesson. I was 23, you were 43. I grew up reading your smart opinions and dreamt of being as erudite as you. You were one of my professional heroes. Everyone said you had transformed Indian journalism and I wanted to be on your team. So, we set a time you could interview me at the plush south Mumbai hotel where you always stayed.

It was 7pm, but that didn’t bother me. I knew you were a busy editor. When I got to the lobby, I called you on the house phone. Come up, you said. Err really? Maybe that’s how celebrity editors interviewed newbies, I thought. Back then I didn’t have the confidence to say: “No, I’ll wait for you in the lobby, you pervert.”

Turns out you were as talented a predator as you were a writer. It was more date, less interview. You offered me a drink from the mini bar (I refused, you drank vodka), we sat on a small table for two that overlooked the Queen’s Necklace (how romantic!) and you sang me old Hindi songs after inquiring after my musical preferences. You thought you were irresistible.

The bed, a scary interview accompaniment, was already turned down for the night. Come sit here, you said at one point, gesturing to a tiny space near you. I’m fine, I replied with a strained smile. I escaped that night, you hired me, I worked for you for many months even though I swore I would never be in a room alone with you again.

All these years later the world has changed but your species is just the same. You still think it’s your right to take your pick of the bright professional young women who enter YOUR workspace. You whip out your tired tricks for a new batch of women every year. “Watch me shower.” “Can I give you a massage?” “A shoulder rub?” “I’m ready for my blow job now.” “Are you married?”

You’re 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 time out. Often, you are quickly reinstated. Why would you need to evolve, right?

Sure, there are many male bosses who don’t think of us as their personal harem, but I haven’t met too many who are ready to stand up with us and call out your misogyny. It doesn’t matter. There are more brave women now who are not scared to point out the monster in the suit.

We’ll get you all one day.
Priya Ramani