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#MeToo: US-based Editor Accuses MJ Akbar Of Rape

US-based editor Pallavi Gogoi has written that Akbar had raped her when she was a young reporter with the Asian Age.

Pallavi Gogoi, the chief business editor of NPR, has written an article in the Washington Post accusing former minister MJ Akbar of sexually assaulting her multiple times. Akbar allegedly raped her when she was his junior at The Asian Age two decades ago.

She writes that Akbar first attacked her in 1994. “I had gone into his office — his door was often closed. I went to show him the op-ed page I had created with what I thought were clever headlines. He applauded my effort and suddenly lunged to kiss me. I reeled. I emerged from the office, red-faced, confused, ashamed, destroyed.” She was 23 years old at the time.

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According to Gogoi’s account, Akbar only grew more brazen with his advances towards her. She was called to a work event in Bombay and Akbar allegedly called her to his hotel room on the pretext of work. “He called me to his room at the fancy Taj hotel, again to see the layouts. When he again came close to me to kiss me, I fought him and pushed him away. He scratched my face as I ran away, tears streaming down.”

MJ Akbar
(Photo: Wikimedia commons)

When she was in Rajasthan covering a story, Akbar summoned her again. “Akbar said I could come discuss the story in his hotel in Jaipur, far from Delhi. “In his hotel room, even though I fought him, he was physically more powerful. He ripped off my clothes and raped me.”

Gogoi did not approach the police for the same reasons as the majority of sexual assault survivors. She writes, “Instead of reporting him to the police, I was filled with shame. I didn’t tell anyone about this then. Would anyone have believed me? I blamed myself. Why did I go to the hotel room?”

She describes that Akbar’s power over her kept growing and that he allegedly continued to sexually abuse her. She recounts, “I stopped fighting his advances because I felt so helpless. He continued to coerce me. For a few months, he continued to defile me sexually, verbally, emotionally. He would burst into loud rages in the newsroom if he saw me talking to male colleagues my own age. It was frightening,”

Gogoi continued to work at the Asian Age and took an overseas posting thinking that it would keep her out of Akbar’s reach. “Except the truth was that he was sending me away so I could have no defenses and he could prey on me whenever he visited the city where I would be posted,” she writes.

The final straw was when Akbar allegedly physically assaulted her at the London office, “After my colleagues left work that eveninghe hit me and went on a rampage, throwing things from the desk at me — a pair of scissors, a paperweight, whatever he could get his hands on. I ran away from the office and hid in Hyde Park for an hour.”

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Gogoi left Asian Age after the alleged incident, and took up a job in New York. She is now a US citizen. She observes that she decided to come forward with her story to support the women journalists in India who have spoken up against him.

Akbar had to step down as the minister of state for external affairs on October 17 after when over two dozen women had publicly accused him of sexual harassment. Even after Akbar’s resignations, BJP leaders have evaded all questions about Akbar, who remains a party member and an MP.

Gogoi observes in her article, “He’s (Akbar’s) still today a member of the Indian Parliament and a member of the ruling party, which prides itself on advancing rights for young girls.

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