Published: Thu, October 18, 2018
Worldwide | By Myra Stephens

Indian minister MJ Akbar resigns amid sexual assault allegations

Indian minister MJ Akbar resigns amid sexual assault allegations

Mr Akbar was earlier seen to have chose to ignore demands for his resignation after being called out by women who had either worked with him or had brief encounters during his days as editor of several newspapers. "Criminal proceedings must be started against him".

However, Akbar has termed his resignation as an appropriate step in a bid to seek justice in a court of law in his personal capacity.

This came after 19 women journalists who have worked with The Asian Age came out in support of their colleague Priya Ramani, who has accused the Union minister of sexual harassment.

Patekar has denied any wrongdoing.

Since then, more than a dozen men in politics, media, entertainment and the arts have been accused of a range of offences, with several prominent figures either resigning or being suspended as a result.

Ramani was the first to name Akbar in a Twitter post October 8, following which over ten women also levelled sexual harassment allegations against him.

As for Akbar's action on Monday to sue Priya Ramani, the journalist who had first named him in the #MeToo campaign, for defamation the NWMI said that it is "a clear attempt to bully, intimidate and silence those bringing to light systemic abuse of women by men in powerful positions".

Karanjawa & Company, the law firm which has filed the complaint on behalf of Mr. Akbar, told The Hindu that the Chief Metropolitan Magistrate (CMM) at the Patiala House courts on Tuesday marked the complaint to a Metropolitan Magistrate, who will take it up for hearing on Thursday.

The cases have transfixed India, published on newspaper front pages and becoming a key talking point on prime-time television news shows in a conservative country where discussions about sex are still taboo for many. Women have long lagged behind men in workplace participation.

Akbar in his statement on Sunday had said that he had "a very tiny cubicle, patched together by plywood and glass" at the Asian Age office where Wahab and he worked.

He was overseas when the allegations emerged and upon his return vowed to fight them.

Taking a dig at the government's slogan, "Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao", Gandhi in a speech at Sheopur in Madhya Pradesh had said that the slogan should be changed to "Beti Padhao, BJP ke netaonse, mantrionse, MLAs se beti bachao" (save the daughter from BJP leaders, ministers, and MLAs).

Immediately after that, a reporter asked Patra about the allegations against union minister Akbar.

The Congress party had been demanding Akbar's resignation since the allegations came to the fore.

The #MeToo movement, which spread virally previous year following sexual misconduct allegations against Harvey Weinstein, attempts to demonstrate the widespread prevalence of sexual assault and harassment, especially in the workplace. Legal experts say defamation lawsuits, in particular, are sometimes used as a tool to stall opponents, especially against those who won't have the wherewithal to respond effectively to such cases.

"You are facing an election in several states and this could have been highly embarrassing for the government".

"The fact that he chose to brazen it out, he became an embarrassment to himself and an embarrassment to the government", she said. Only the headline has been changed.

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