Journalists' groups 'disappointed' with MJ Akbar's statement on sexual misconduct charges, demand that he step down from post

A group of journalists' associations has demanded that Minister of State for External Affairs MJ Akbar step down from his post in the government, following a barrage of sexual harassment allegations against him as part of the #MeToo movement in India. The Indian Women's Press Corps, Press Club of India, Press Association and South Asian Women in the Media, on Monday, released a statement, saying, they were disappointed by Akbar's statement, "wherein he has threatened legal action against all those who have alleged they were harassed by him".

This statement by the journalists' groups comes on a day when Akbar filed a criminal defamation case against journalist Priya Ramani, one of the women who made the accusations of sexual misconduct against Akbar.

MJ Akbar outside his residence on Sunday. PTI

MJ Akbar outside his residence on Sunday. PTI

"Mr. Akbar is a senior functionary of the government and his response should reflect the responsibility that is thus bestowed on him... In the interests of a fair probe, moral and public propriety, it would only be appropriate that the minister step down from his post till such time as the inquiry is completed," the journalists association said.

They also urged employers at media organisations to look into issues of harassment with the seriousness they deserve, "not treat the incidents as motivated complaints".

Akbar's name cropped up in the #MeToo campaign against sexual harassment when he was on a tour of African nations. At least 14 women have accused him of making unwanted advances towards them and making them feel uncomfortable in the workplace during his years in the newsroom.

Hours after returning from the trip on Sunday, Akbar had termed the allegations of sexual harassment levelled against him as "false, fabricated and deeply distressing", saying he was taking "appropriate legal action" against the women.

Among those who accused Akbar of sexual harassment include Ramani, Ghazala Wahab, Shuma Raha, Anju Bharti and Shutapa Paul.

With inputs from PTI

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Updated Date: Oct 15, 2018 19:57 PM

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