NEW DELHI: On the day when Priya Ramani was acquitted, other women journalists who had spoken out against M J Akbar said the judgment was “empowering” and “healing”. “This judgment is empowering and one that vindicates women who have faced sexual harassment at workplace. For me, the big takeaway is that the onus is not on women to complain. It acknowledged the culture of sexual harassment. It also acknowledged the stigma attached to speaking out. It believed Priya over M J Akbar in this case. That is a big vindication. Just to hear these words that ‘we believe you’ is very liberating, healing,” said journalist Suparna Sharma, who had spoken out against Akbar for sexually harassing her.
“It will have a very positive effect. Watching Priya and her lawyer is very empowering for women. This judgment has restored our faith...The #MeToo movement was also because women were not sure they will be heard properly, or be trusted. When a judicial court tells you that ‘we believe you even if you come to us decades later, we believe your story’, it is very encouraging. We hope this helps break silences for women who want to complain.”
Journalist Ghazala Wahab, who had recounted how Akbar sexually harassed her, said the judge understood the problems from a woman’s perspective. “He understood the fact that it is not possible for a woman to always report her sexual harassment. The judge said that a lot of times women do not understand what they are going through because they do not have the tools to understand what is happening. The responsibility in that case lies with people who are empowered... people who should be helping women who do have adequate tools or adequate voice.”
Journalist Saba Naqvi, who had spoken out against Akbar’s conduct, tweeted, “#PriyaRamani stands tall conducting herself magnificently.”UK-based journalist Ruth David said it was a historic ruling for MeToo movement. “Priya Ramani and Rebecca John are the giants on whose shoulders we stood through the last 2 plus years,” she tweeted.