Smt. Sushma Swaraj
Minister of External Affairs of India
UPDATE: 18 October 2018
Minister of State for External Affairs MJ Akbar has resigned. This is a huge victory for you, me and the #MeToo movement in India.
It’s such a great feeling to know that the voices of the women, who have bravely come forward to share horrific accounts of harassment, are being heard. MJ Akbar is still going to pursue the defamation case against Priya Ramani, but senior female journalists have stepped up to show their support, and will not go down without a fight. This will likely be a long battle forward. But, we’ve already come a long way!
Thank you for letting the Ministry of External Affairs know that you believe the women who have stepped forward.
** Trigger warning** This email contains references to sexual harassment that may be triggering for some to read.
12 October 2018:
“Before I could react he shut the door, trapping me between his body and the door. I instinctively flinched, but he held me and bent to kiss me. With my mouth clamped shut, I struggled to turn my face to one side. The jostling continued, without much success. Fear had rendered me speechless. As my body was pushing against the door, at some point he let me go…” 1
The accused man, who made this woman cringe for many months after this incident, is still sitting in a government office and taking vital decisions for this country.
We are talking about M J Akbar -- Minister of State (MoS) for External Affairs and a Member of Parliament in the Rajya Sabha. We believe that a government official like MJ Akbar, with several serious allegations of sexual harassment and violence against him, should at least be answerable to an enquiry.
It is not okay for MJ Akbar to continue carrying out government duties with these accusations against him. That’s why we’re asking Sushma Swaraj, Minister of External Affair of India to relieve him of his duties and order an independent investigation on him.
As the Minister for External Affairs, Sushma Swaraj has the ultimate authority and responsibility to ensure that such severe allegations of sexual harassment are taken seriously.
She is known to be proactive and solutions-oriented, so we know she will act on our concerns. Let’s do our part and make sure she hears our concerns loud and clear.
KR Sreenivas, Times of India Resident Editor and Prashant Jha, Chief of Bureau and Political Editor of Hindustan Times have already resigned following sexual harassment allegations against them.
We can’t stop now. India’s #MeToo movement has created the perfect opportunity to take charge of women’s safety at workplaces. We need to strike while the iron is hot, and make sure proper redressal happens.
Let’s look at it this way -- this is a high profile case, if Sushma Swaraj takes action against MJ Akbar, this will set an example for other organisations that sexual harassment is not to be taken lightly.