Pressure has been mounting on the NDA to sack MJ Akbar, who is the Minister of State in the Ministry of External Affairs.

Women dont go to work to be harassed Smriti Irani on allegations against MJ AkbarPTI
news Me Too Thursday, October 11, 2018 - 19:10

Union Textiles Minister Smriti Irani on Thursday became the first union minister to speak up on the allegations against fellow minister MJ Akbar, who has been accused of sexual assault, sexual harassment and intimidation.

Speaking to ANI, Smriti Irani spoke in support of the survivors and stated that MJ Akbar should respond to the allegations against him.

“Anybody who is speaking out should not be shamed, victimised or mocked. Women don’t go to work to be harassed. They go to work to live their dreams and earn a respectable living. I am hopeful that all these ladies who are speaking out get the justice that they deserve. It is for gentleman concerned (MJ Akbar) to issue a statement,” Smriti Irani told ANI.

Later during an event, Smriti Irani commented that she would not like to be called a feminist.

“I'm not feminist because considering yourself human is not a sign of feminism but a sign of humanity. Don’t bind anybody in nomenclatures. Nomenclatures are acceptable internationally. But in my country, don’t call me feminist just because I respect women,” she was quoted as saying by ANI.

Over 11 women have accused MJ Akbar, who is the Minister of State in the Ministry of External Affairs, of sexual assault and sexual harassment in gut-wrenching accounts which all have a similar pattern - He would set up job interviews with aspiring women journalists in hotel rooms, repeatedly call them to his office cabin for meaningless conversation and chatter, entice them with major stories, send them out of the workplace and meet them at a hotel at odd hours.   

The Minister of External Affairs, Sushma Swaraj, has been severely criticised for ducking questions by the media when asked about the allegations on Akbar who is a part of her ministry.

Meanwhile, pressure has been mounting on the NDA government to sack MJ Akbar. Political parties like the Congress and the CPI(M) have called for Akbar’s resignation. 

Since Friday, several Indian women from various fields have been taking to Twitter to speak up about the sexual harassment and sexual assault that they have faced. Allegations have been made against many prominent men, including stand-up comedians, singers, senior journalists and editors.

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