#MeToo: MJ Akbar Filing Criminal Defamation Case Against Priya Ramani Is Shameful: Twitter Reactions
Prominent journalists and media personalities, among others, tweet in support of Priya Ramani
Minister of State for External Affairs, MJ Akbar, has filed a criminal defamation case against senior journalist Priya Ramani. Last week, around a dozen women journalists had accused Akbar of sexual misconduct at the workplace during his stint as editor at Asian Age and India Today.
In a statement issued on Sunday, Akbar denied all allegations and had said that he was being targeted as part of a “political agenda”. He has now taken legal action.
Ramani is the first woman who publicly outed MJ Akbar. On October 8, She shared on Twitter an article she had written last year for Vogue India. Titled “To the Harvey Weinsteins of the world”, it narrates how, two decades ago, she had been invited to a hotel room for an interview, where the male superior had gone on to sexually harass her. While the article originally did not name him, she named Akbar as the perpetrator in her tweet when #MeToo revelations hit Twitter last week.
Even though over a dozen women have accused Akbar, he has chosen to file a case only against Ramani, which is being seen as an intimidation tactic to keep other women from speaking up as well.
Lawyers and journalists took to Twitter to express solidarity with Ramani. Some even pointed out that India needs to do away with its outdated criminal defamation law that is often misused to silence and suppress dissent.
Empire strikes back. Minister, backed by PM and full cabinet, to be represented by the biggest law firm, also defended by some senior columnists, as he takes on 14 women, 2 of whom were teenagers when they say he sexually harassed them with court cases.We are all on trial today. https://t.co/Y0gAaHVcXf
— Suhasini Haidar (@suhasinih) October 15, 2018
— Swati Chaturvedi (@bainjal) October 15, 2018
Well, if he *insists* on being confronted in open court with a parade of his victims testifying to a specific pattern of behaviour, he’s about to get his wish.
— Prem Panicker (@prempanicker) October 15, 2018
Hey @priyaramani and all 14 who have spoke up. Let’s crowd fund your defence. I am sure may top lawyers will help you fight pro bono, but we at @MoneylifeIndia know there are lots of expenses involved! So think about it! Happy to support I am sure thousands of others will too! https://t.co/WmSnOfFKQy
— Sucheta Dalal (@suchetadalal) October 15, 2018
So MJ Akbar files criminal defamation suit against Priya Ramani but there is a fleet of women calling him out.
His worst defence was why is it being done before 2019 elections! Didn’t Sajid Khan, Utsav, Vinod Dua, AIB get called out too? Is that a political conspiracy too?
— Sonam Mahajan (@AsYouNotWish) October 15, 2018
— Rohini Mohan (@rohini_mohan) October 15, 2018
I don’t expect this case to stick, but what we are going to see now is an increased recourse to criminal defamation as a method of harassment.
Also worth remembering that the man who upheld criminal defamation in 2016 was the much-vaunted “women’s rights judge”, one Dipak Misra. https://t.co/g7dXV3cJEt
— Gautam Bhatia (@gautambhatia88) October 15, 2018
— durga nandini (@nandinidurga) October 15, 2018
Complete silence about #MJAkbar
— Sandhya Menon (@TheRestlessQuil) October 15, 2018
Highly irregular of @mjakbar to continue in office while he pursues a legal course of action on allegations of sexual harassment when he was an editor. He is now a minister in the Union cabinet. How come @PMOIndia doesn’t think it fit to ask him to step down? This is not on.
— geeta seshu (@geetaseshu) October 15, 2018
There are few hills I am willing to die on. But Priya Ramani’s integrity is one of those. Unleash hell boss. Unlease hell.
— #RebuildKerala (@sidin) October 15, 2018
— Genderlog (@genderlogindia) October 15, 2018
Congrats @priyaramani …..
Power to you
— Saba Naqvi (@_sabanaqvi) October 15, 2018
— Prem Panicker (@prempanicker) October 15, 2018
The case against @priyaramani is an extremely important moment. Warrior ladies, full solidarity, one voice, one mission, a common cause. No fear and DO NOT get intimidated. Onwards we march to knock on the doors of justice
— Sagarika Ghose (@sagarikaghose) October 15, 2018
He’s picked on the wrong person this time.
Not young. Not defenceless. Not vulnerable.
— Sumana Mukherjee (@SumanaMukherjee) October 15, 2018
After Ramani spoke up, a dozen other women journalists recounted their tales of being harassed by MJ Akbar. Senior journalist and author Ghazala Wahab wrote in The Wire how Akbar had sexually harassed and molested her when she worked under him at The Asian Age in 1997.
CNN journalist Majlie de Puy Kamp has also come forward and said that Akbar harassed her in 2007, when she was 18-years-old and interning at The Asian Age. She wrote that Akbar molested her, a fact that she brought up with her father who knew Akbar. She also said that there are emails to prove the same, since her father had confronted Akbar about this.
Journalist Suparna Sharma, Resident Editor of The Asian Age, has also alleged that Akbar ‘plucked at her bra strap’ and ‘stared at her breasts.’
Other journalists who have accused Akbar include Saba Naqvi, Kanika Gahlaut and Shutapa Paul.