Indian Minister Resigns to Contest #MeToo Allegations in Court


Ramani on Monday asserted that she was ready to fight the defamation complaint filed against her, and expressed disappointment over the minister's statement, saying it paid no heed to the "trauma and fear of the survivors".

An Indian minister accused of sexual harassment by more than 20 women has resigned as India's #MeToo movement widens. They also have often cited their failed efforts to get justice through regular channels. As many as 20 journalists had volunteered to testify against Akbar. But they say their concerns were repeatedly dismissed or trivialised by colleagues and that "due process" in India has broken down. His resignation comes in the wake of a series of allegations of sexual harassment levelled by at least 16 women.

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. "The #MeToo movement needs support across party lines". Majile de Puy Kamp told HuffPost India that Akbar forcefully kissed her on her last day as an intern at the Asian Age in 2007: "He grabbed me right under my shoulders, on my arms, and pulled me in and kissed me on my mouth and forced his tongue into my mouth, and I just stood there".

We can't lose this battle. Simultaneously, he also brought up the case of BJP MLA Kuldeep Singh Sengar, MLA from Unnao in Uttar Pradesh, who was accused of raping a woman. "If we lose this battle, we're losing the war", said Sandhya Menon, one of the women journalists leading the movement.

Ramani had recently identified Akbar as the unnamed editor in an article she had written in Vogue in October 2017, where she recounted her interview with him in a hotel. Following this, several women stepped forward levelling similar allegations against Akbar.

"I ran out of his cabin and into the toilet to cry my eyes out", added Wahab, who now works as executive editor of Force magazine. She alleges that he went on to sing old Hindi songs to her and at one point, asked her to sit close to him. MJ Akbar has submitted his resignation today evening.

The phenomenon remains confined to India's urban elite at present, with vast numbers of women elsewhere in the country lacking either access to justice or a platform to name their tormentors.

Akbar earlier dismissed Ramani's accusations and said he would sue for defamation.

AAP spokesperson Dilip Pandey said, "mere resignation by Akbar is not sufficient considering gravity of allegations against him".

Some activists argue that the defamation cases could provide an opportunity for women to prove their allegations in court.

"I have, therefore, tendered my resignation from the office of Minister of State for External Affairs", said MJ Akbar in a statement.

Over the past week, lists of lawyers willing to work on sexual harassment cases pro bono have circulated on social media, and new allegations against men on social media have emerged.