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M J Akbar faces #MeToo heat; Swaraj dodges questions

October 09, 2018 17:53 IST

'These are sexual harassment allegations. You are a woman minister in charge. Will there be a probe on the allegations?'

External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj on Tuesday, October 9, dodged questions on sexual harassment allegations against her ministry colleague M J Akbar.

As the #MeToo campaign gains momentum in India, Minister of State for External Affairs Akbar is among the latest to face the flak by some women journalists who accused him of sexual misconduct during his years in journalism.

In October last year, when the #MeeToo campaign peaked in Hollywood, journalist Priya Ramani had written an article for Vogue India magazine, titled 'To the Harvey Weinsteins of the world' and narrated her ordeal about the gut-wrenching incident of sexual misconduct she faced during a job interview with a renowned journalist who had 'transformed Indian journalism'.


Ramani, recently on Twitter, claimed that the journalist she was referring to was Akbar.

Ramani is amongst several women journalists who have levelled similar allegations against Akbar.

Another woman journalist said she declined a job offer after being interviewed by Akbar in a hotel room in Kolkata because she felt 'deeply uncomfortable'.

'I must clarify, however, that he didn't actually 'do' anything. But the whole experience of an interview sitting on a bed in a hotel room followed by an invitation to come over for a drink that evening, was rattling and deeply uncomfortable,' wrote Shuma Raha.

In a video shot by a journalist, Swaraj can be seen evading questions related to allegations on Akbar, asked by some women scribes.

'There are serious allegations...these are sexual harassment allegations. You are a woman minister in charge. Will there be a probe on the allegations?' journalists can be heard asking in the video.

Swaraj, however, walked away without answering.

The #MeeToo movement first began in 2017 in Hollywood just a few days after The New York Times and the New Yorker magazine published stories about movie mogul Harvey Weinstein's decades-long sexual predatory behaviour.

This movement gained momentum in India last week after a number of women from different fields of work revealed their stories of harassment and leveled an allegation against many known personalities.

It started with Tanushree Dutta accusing actor Nana Patekar of harassment on the sets of a 2008 film.

Source: ANI