India’s #MeToo chorus is being heard from every corner of the country. The campaign took India with a storm with women naming out men who sexually harassed them.
So far 11 allegations have emerged against journalist-turned- politician and BJP Minister MJ Akbar. Akbar’s colleagues, including Smriti Irani and Maneka Gandhi, have acknowledged the online testimonies against him and have called for a probe.
Akbar was first accused by journalist Priya Ramani, who had written about him in an article she wrote for Vogue a year ago with exposing his name. As the #MeToo movement began to gain momentum, Priya now made it clear that the article was about Akbar’s misconducts.Priya recounts how Akbar interviewed her in a hotel, offered her a drink (which she refused), asked her to sit next to him on the bed and even sang her romantic Hindi songs.
Another UK-based journalist Ruth David recounted how Akbar started calling her into his office which was a room with a big wooden door which ensured no one could hear or see what was going on inside.She further recalled how he stood behind and offered massages and would try to kiss her. “Akbar tried to kiss me against my will,” Ruth wrote.
A US-based journalist has come forward to accuse Akbar of sexual harassment. CNN scribe Majlie de Puy Kamp has revealed that she was sexually harassed by Akbar in 2007 when she was an 18-year-old intern. Sharing the incident on Twitter, Kamp wrote: “Akbar shoved his 55-year-old tongue down my 18-year-old throat.”
Journalist Saba Naqvi was another survivor who spoke up. “Akbar often called me to his office, he also landed at my apartment once,” Saba shared.
Journalist and author Ghazala Wahab’s account of MJ Akbar’s persistent sexual abuses against her are deeply upsetting and harrowing. Sharing her experience in a post, she said Akbar started calling her into his cabin for meaningless talks. Ghazala recounts, “Akbar ran his hands from my breast to my hips.”
Journalist Sutapa Paul shares her horrific experience and said, “Akbar gave me a tight hug, said colleagues often grew close.”
Journalist and author Shuma Raha said that she was called for an interview with Akbar for a job at a newspaper publication, to a hotel in Kolkata in 1995.
Journalist Kanika Gahlaut, who worked with Akbar between 1995 and 1997, says she was forewarned of his “glad eye” and that he “did it to everyone”.
Suparna Sharma, who is currently the Resident Editor of The Asian Age, Delhi, said “Akbar plucked my bra strap and said something that I don’t remember now.”
In another shocking incident, Journalist Prerna Singh Bindra recalled a similar invite from Akbar to a hotel. “He was this brilliant, flamboyant editor who dabbled in politics, who called me to his hotel room to ‘discuss work’…. made life at work hell when I refused, could not speak up due to various compulsions, but yes #MeTooIndia,” she tweeted without taking his name.
Another Journalist Kadambari Wade said that Akbar used to stare at her chest whenever he addressed her.