Published: Thu, October 18, 2018
Global News | By Stacy Ballard

MJ Akbar's resignation accepted by Narendra Modi

MJ Akbar's resignation accepted by Narendra Modi

He had accused Ramani of "wilfully, deliberately, intentionally and maliciously" defaming him and had sought her prosecution under the penal provision on defamation.

On Tuesday, MJ Akbar had filed a defamation suit which names only one of the multiple women who have accused him of sex harassment, but 20 women journalists have pledged to testify in court against him. She wrote: "Suddenly you got up, grabbed me and kissed me hard - your stale tea breath and your bristly moustache are still etched in the recesses of my memory". In October, a handful of influential newspaper editors, including Prashant Jha of the Hindustan Times and KR Sreenivas of the Times of India, resigned amid sexual misconduct allegations against them. But they say their concerns were repeatedly dismissed or trivialised by colleagues and that "due process" in India has broken down. Women activists now hope to strengthen an existing Indian law, the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace Act, which has been poorly implemented since it was enacted in 2013.

Whether Akbar's fall sets off a wider reckoning within the country's political class will largely determine whether India's #MeToo movement leads to lasting change in the country.

Mr Akbar was a prominent editor who founded several publications including the Asian Age.

We can't lose this battle.

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In India's deeply conservative society, the #MeToo movement began belatedly but has picked up steam in recent weeks.

"When we looked at women managers, one of the things that was obvious was that whenever they faced harassment, they went back home or their home pulled them back", said Ranjana Kumari, the director of the Centre for Social Research, a Delhi-based think tank.

The media was considering a complete boycott of Akbar when the alleged sexual predator finally chose to step down.

The following day, dozens of members of the Congress Party's youth wing clashed with police outside Akbar's New Delhi home, demanding his resignation.

The women journalists who have signed the statement have worked with Asian Age.

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The Guild further stated that in case MJ Akbar did not withdraw his complaint or filed a complaint against other women, then they would support the women in any way they can through legal advice or assistance. "These false, baseless and wild allegations have caused irreparable damage to my reputation and goodwill", he said in his first statement after returning to India.

Some activists argue that the defamation cases could provide an opportunity for women to prove their allegations in court.

The requested Akbar to withdraw the case as it would be "paradoxical for a veteran editor to employ the instrument of criminal defamation".

They include Majlie de Puy Kamp, a journalist with CNN in NY, who claimed Akbar kissed her when she was an 18-year-old intern at his newspaper Asian Age in 2007.

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