In the first response from the Narendra Modi cabinet on the sexual harrassment charges against Union Minister of State for External Affairs, his ministerial colleague Smriti Irani on Wednesday said that women go to work to realise their dreams and shouldn’t be pawed. “Anybody who is speaking out should not be shamed, victimised or mocked… women don’t go to work to be pawed, they work to realise their dreams,” she said.
“Am hopeful that ladies who are speaking out get due justice. It is for the gentleman concerned (MJ Akbar) to issue a statement,” added the Union minister.
“The gentlemen concerned would be better positioned to speak on this issue. I appreciate that the media is accosting his female colleagues…Anybody who is speaking out should in no way be shamed, victimised or mocked,” she said further.
Under the recently started #MeToo campaign in India, Akbar has been accused of sexual harassment and inappropriate behaviour by as many as six women journalists. The first journalist to level such allegations was Priya Ramani, formerly of India Today, The Indian Express and Mint. In a piece written in October 2017 for Vogue India, Ramani had narrated her experience “with an editor” when she was 23 years old and he was 43.
Women don’t go to work to be harassed. They go to work to live their dreams&earn a respectable living. I am hopeful that all these ladies who are speaking out get the justice that they deserve: Union Minister Smriti Irani on #MeToo pic.twitter.com/3PbxHMt44w
— ANI (@ANI) October 11, 2018
On Monday, the journalist tweeted the link of the story and revealed Akbar’s name. “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,” she said.
Since then, as many as six women journalists have accused Akbar of inappropriate behaviour when he worked as a newspaper editor. Akbar is yet to react to the allegations. Earlier, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and BJP spokeperson Sambit Patra were seen ducking questions on the controversy.