Now Reading
MJ Akbar must step down and submit to investigation of sexual harassment charges

MJ Akbar must step down and submit to investigation of sexual harassment charges

The Network of Women in Media, India, along with the Foundation for Media Professionals and BrihanMumbai Union of Journalists, stands in solidarity with Priya Ramani and others who have accused former editor and current Union Minister of State MJ Akbar of sexual misconduct, and condemn what we see as a concerted effort to throttle an equal rights movement by using the threat of defamation suits to intimidate women who have gathered the courage to speak up.

We express our deep dismay at the allegations of sexual harassment, including assault, levelled by several journalists against Mr Akbar who continues to hold office in the Central Government despite these allegations.

To

Hon’ble President of India
Ram Nath Kovind
Rashtrapati Bhavan
New Delhi

The Prime Minister of India
Narendra Modi
Prime Minister’s Office
New Delhi

15.10.2018

Sub: Defamation case against journalist Priya Ramani by MoS MJ Akbar

Respected Sirs,

The Network of Women in Media India along with Foundation for Media Professionals and BrihanMumbai Union of Journalists stands in solidarity with Priya Ramani and others who have accused former editor and current Union Minister of State MJ Akbar of sexual misconduct, and condemn what we see as a concerted effort to throttle an equal rights movement by using the threat of defamation suits to intimidate women who have gathered the courage to speak up.

We express our deep dismay at the allegations of sexual harassment, including assault, levelled by several journalists against Mr Akbar who continues to hold office in the Central Government despite these allegations.

The accounts pertain to his years as an editor with leading newspapers and newsmagazines in India.

In addition to Priya Ramani, the journalists include Anju Bharti, Ghazala Wahab, Harinder S. Baweja, Kadambari M. Wade, Kanika Gahlaut, Majlie de Puy Kamp, Malini Bhupta, Prerna S. Bindra, Ruth S. David, Saba Naqvi, Shuma Raha, Shutapa Paul and Suparna Sharma.

Mr Akbar has initiated legal action against Ms Ramani. We are extremely concerned that he continues to be a minister in the Union council of ministers even as he pursues whatever legal course of action he plans. You will agree this is highly unethical and improper and would cast a cloud over any investigation of his alleged misdeeds, besides undermining the independence, justice and fair play that any citizen can expect from such proceedings.

A criminal defamation charge is a clear attempt to bully, intimidate and silence those who are bringing to light systemic abuse of women by men in powerful positions. It is designed to push women back into silent compliance and will silence the voices of the many who have not yet spoken up.

We would like to point out that Section 499 of the IPC, which pertains to defamation, cites exceptions in case of “imputation of truth which public good requires to be made or published”. In the case of Mr Akbar, we strongly believe this holds true for a large section of women who may not otherwise find the voice to speak of sexual abuse.

In recent years, women have made great strides in various professional fields. In many cases, these women are the first generation from their families to have careers and hold jobs. The Constitution guarantees women the status of equal citizens and the Sexual Harassment of Women at the Workplace (Prevention and Prohibition) Act, 2013 is designed to protect women from sexual assault, thereby creating safer work spaces for them.

The past 10 days have seen an unprecedented wave of public statements by women across sectors about their experiences of sexual harassment and violence in the workplace. Many women have spoken out at great personal and professional cost. Across media, entertainment and corporate houses, those accused of sexual harassment are being asked to step down or submit to an enquiry as per law. By ignoring this defining moment, and watching silently while a government minister sues a woman who has spoken out, your government is giving a regressive message: that the fundamental right to life, safety and dignity of a sizeable section of the workforce does not matter. It’s an attempt to thwart democracy.

We demand that:

  • MJ Akbar submit to an independent investigation.
  • The Ministry of External Affairs ask Mr Akbar to step down from office pending investigation.
  • The case against Ms Ramani be dropped by Mr Akbar.
  • All support be extended by the government to women in their struggle for justice.
  • That Ms Sushma Swaraj, Union Minister for External Affairs, take workplace harassment seriously and not encourage intimidatory tactics against women who have complained.

Network of Women in Media, India
Foundation of Media Professionals
BrihanMumbai Union of Journalists

  • Abhinandan Sekhri, CEO, Newslandry
  • Abhishek Choudhary
  • Alex D’souza, Mumbai
  • Alka Dhupkar
  • Ammu Joseph, Bengaluru
  • Amrita Dutta, Associate Editor, The Indian Express
  • Amrita Madhukalya
  • Ananya Chakraborti
  • Angshukanta Chakraborty
  • Ankita Anand
  • Anna Cheriac, Bengaluru
  • Anna MM Vetticad, Independent Journalist
  • Annie Thomas, Chennai
  • Anumeha Yadav, Delhi
  • Aparna Karthikeyan, Mumbai
  • Aradhna Wai
  • Archana Jha
  • Arti Jaiman, Community Broadcaster, Delhi
  • Ashlin Mathew, News Editor, National Herald
  • Avantika Mehta, New Delhi
  • Chandni Doulatramani
  • Chhavi Bhatia
  • Chitra Ahanthem, Imphal, Manipur
  • Chitrangda Chowdhury
  • DVL Padma Priya, Independent Journalist
  • Deepanjana Pal
  • Dhamini Ratnam
  • Dhanya Rajendran
  • Disha Shetty
  • Divya Rajagopal
  • Dushyant, Chief Editor, NewsCentral24X7.com
  • Geeta Seshu, Mumbai
  • Gita Aravamudan, Bengaluru
  • Gita Bakshi
  • Heena Khandelwal
  • Inder Jain, General Secretary, BrihanMumbai Union of Journalists
  • Indulekha Aravind, Bengaluru
  • Jairaj Singh
  • Jayaditya Gupta, executive editor, ESPN India
  • Jyoti Punwani, Mumbai
  • Kajal Iyer, Mumbai
  • Kalpana Sharma, Mumbai
  • Kamayani Bali Mahabal, feminist and human rights activist, Mumbai
  • Kavita Shanmugham, Bengaluru
  • Kiran Manral
  • Laxmi Murthy, Bengaluru
  • Lakshmy Venkiteswaran, Chennai
  • Lesley Esteves, Journalist, New Delhi
  • MJ Pande, Mumbai
  • Madhavi Rajadhyaksha, Mumbai
  • Madhur Singh, India Correspondent, Bloomberg Law
  • Mahesh Rajput, UNI, Chandigarh
  • Maitri Porechha
  • Malini Subramaniam, Hyderabad
  • Manisha Pande, Delhi
  • Megha Moorthy, Associate Managing Editor, The Asian Age
  • Melanie P Kumar, Independent Writer, Bengaluru
  • Minnie Vaid, documentary film maker and author
  • Manoj Mitta, independent journalist and author, Delhi
  • Namita Bhandare
  • Navya P K, Independent journalist, Kerala
  • Neelam Jeena
  • Neeta Kolhatkar, Mumbai
  • Neha Dara, Chandigarh
  • Neha Dixit, Delhi
  • Neha Thirani Bagri, independent journalist, Mumbai
  • Nikhil Ghanekar
  • Niloufer Venkatraman
  • Nimmi Chauhan, Ahmedabad
  • Padmaja Shaw, Hyderabad
  • Prabhat Sharan, Mumbai
  • Praveen Donthi, Delhi
  • Priyanka Dubey
  • Prerna Thakurdesai
  • Prema Vishwanathan
  • R Akhileshwari, Journalist and Academic
  • Radhika Ramaseshan New Delhi
  • Ragamalika Karthikeyan, Bangalore
  • Raghu Karnad
  • Rahul Pandita, Delhi
  • Rajashri Dasgupta, Kolkata
  • Raksha Kumar, independent journalist
  • Raman Kirpal
  • Ranjitha Gunasekaran, Chennai
  • Ranjona Banerji, freelance journalist, Dehradun
  • Rehmat Merchant, Bengaluru
  • Rema Nagarajan
  • Renu Ramanath, Kochi
  • Revati Laul, Independent Journalist, Delhi
  • Revathi Siva Kumar
  • Rina Mukherjee, Pune
  • Ritika Jain
  • Ritupurna Chatterjee
  • Rohini Mohan, independent journalist, Bengaluru
  • Rosamma Thomas, Pune
  • Roshni P Nair, The Ken
  • SN Sinha, President, Indian Journalists Union (IJU), New Delhi
  • Sabina Inderjit, Vice President, Indian Journalists Union and International Federation of Journalists
  • Sahaya Teresa, Chennai
  • Sameera Khan, Mumbai
  • Samrat Chakrabarti
  • Samrat Choudhury
  • Sana Shakeel
  • Sandhya Srinivasan, Mumbai
  • Sandhya Ravishankar, Independent Author and Journalist, Chennai
  • Sandhya Taksale, Pune
  • Sanyukta Dharmadhikari
  • Sarika Ravindran, Times of India, Mumbai
  • Sarika Sharma
  • Shone Satheesh
  • Sarita Santoshini
  • Satyen K Bordoloi, columnist and scriptwriter, Mumbai
  • Shamik Bag, Independent Journalist, Kolkata
  • Sharda Ugra
  • Sharmila Joshi, Mumbai
  • Shefali Sadhu-Banerjee, Senior Producer, features and documentaries, ABP MAJHA, Mumbai
  • Shobhan, Mumbai
  • Shobana Rupakumar, Chennai
  • Smita Gupta
  • Smita Nair
  • Smita Ramanathan, Bengaluru
  • Sukhwant Basra, Chandigarh
  • Sumana Mukherjee
  • Sumita Jaiswal, Patna
  • Sunanda Beecha Mehta
  • Swapna Majumdar, Independent Journalist
  • Urvashi Sarkar
  • Vasanthi Hariprakash, independent journalist, Bengaluru
View Comments (0)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

© 2020 Network of Women in Media, India (NWMI).
Original articles may be reproduced for non-commercial purposes with due credit to nwmindia.org

Scroll To Top