India's #MeToo movement has now reached the politicians. Women journalists have called out Union Minister and former journalist MJ Akbar's name on Twitter.
It all began with the tweet from journalist Priya Ramani, who had written an article on Akbar in Vogue India in October last year, without naming the minister.
In her article titled 'To the Harvey Weinsteins of the world,' Ramani narrated her experience with the former journalist and now minister of state for external affairs MJ Akbar in a hotel room in Mumbai, where he had called her for an interview.
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"You’re an expert on obscene phone calls, texts, inappropriate compliments and not taking no for an answer. You know how to pinch, pat, rub, grab and assault. Speaking up against you still carries a heavy price that many young women cannot afford to pay," it read.
Following Ramani, fellow women journalists took on to Twitter to narrate their ordeal. One of the journalists said that he would often conduct interviews in his bed and offer alcohol to women.
He was this brilliant,flamboyant #editor who dabbled in politics, who called me-my 1st job- to his hotel room to 'discuss work', after i put the edition to bed-read midnight, & made life at work hell when i refused.,cudnt speak up due to various compulsions, but yes #MeTooIndia— prerna singh bindra (@prernabindra) October 6, 2018
OMG! He turned up at my friend's house one night for a coffee. As a single mother with a sleeping child she told him she could neither invite him in nor go out with him. From next day he made life hell for her at their workplace https://t.co/3XRj7oWK94— Sujata Anandan (@sujataanandan) October 8, 2018
One of the journalists wrote on Twitter that a lot of women have a story to tell about.
"Can I come over to your house with a bottle of rum?" he said. NO, was the answer. Couldn't 'do' anything. Some don't get the meaning of No. they move on to the next, don't they," she wrote.
So many of us have an MJ story. "Can I come over to your house with a bottle of rum?" he said. NO, was the answer.... Couldnt 'do' anything. Some dont get the meaning of No... they move on to the next, dont they https://t.co/eMnO6Y3PNX— Harinder Baweja (@shammybaweja) October 8, 2018
A lot of media persons have come in support of these women. "GOI must do order an immediate neutral investigation under court-mandated Sexual Harassment Rules," Senior journalist Barkha Dutt said in a tweet.
Priya Ramani @priyaramani & other journalists have made grave & credible allegations against #MJAkbar - stories that have been around in the industry for years. GOI must do order an immediate neutral investigation under court mandated Sexual Harassment Rules— barkha dutt (@BDUTT) October 9, 2018
Not *one* journalist in newsrooms across the length and breadth of India will be even remotely surprised by the MJ Akbar allegations. That you can stay at the top for so long despite this (and go even further) underlines how poorly media organisations have dealt with this issue.— Ananth Krishnan (@ananthkrishnan) October 9, 2018
Unbelievable consistency.— Prasanto K Roy (@prasanto) October 8, 2018
What a track record.
Never a variation.
Every female journo who's interviewed him: hotel room, bed ready, drinks on hand.
The Ministry of external affairs is yet to respond to the allegations against the minister. Foreign Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj was seen evading questions related to MJ Akbar in a video shot by a journalist.
Union Minister for Women and Child Development Maneka Gandhi was the first BJP minister to break the silence and responded to the allegations against MJ Akbar.
“There must be an investigation. Men in a position of power often indulge in such acts,” a news report quoted Maneka Gandhi.