Ramani ready to fight Akbar defamation complaint

Ramani ready to fight Akbar defamation complaintNEW DELHI: Journalist Priya Ramani has asserted that she was ready to fight the defamation complaint filed in court against her by Union minister M J Akbar and expressed disappointment over his statement, saying it paid no heed to the “trauma and fear of the survivors”.
She also said Akbar was seeking to “silence” the survivors through “intimidation and harassment”.
After returning from Africa, the Minister of State for External Affairs had rejected the allegations of sexual misconduct leveled against him by several women as “false, fabricated and deeply distressing”.

He filed a private criminal defamation complaint in a Delhi court against Ramani, who has recently leveled the charges of sexual misconduct against him as the #MeToo campaign rages on in India.
“I am deeply disappointed that a Union minister should dismiss the detailed allegations of several women as a political conspiracy,” Ramani said in a statement.
“By instituting a case of criminal defamation against me, Akbar has made his stand clear: rather than engage with the serious allegations that many women have made against him, he seeks to silence them through intimidation and harassment,” she added.
“Needless to say, I am ready to fight the allegations of defamation laid against me as truth and the absolute truth is my only defense,” Ramani said.

She said those who had spoken up against Akbar had done so at great risk to their personal and professional lives. “At this moment, it is disingenuous to ask why they have spoken now, as we are well aware of the stigma and shame that sexual crimes inflict upon victims. Rather than cast aspersions on the intent and motives of these women, we must reflect on how to improve the workplace for future generations of men and women,” the journalist said.
Some women activists termed as not surprising Union minister Akbar’s decision to move court against a journalist who has accused him of sexual harassment. They said he was “not the first man to not accept his mistakes” and won’t be the last.

Women’s rights activist Vani Subramanian told PTI that she is not surprised that Akbar had moved court as “such people tend to react in this way when their power and entitlement is challenged”.
“He is not the first man to not accept his mistake and unfortunately he wouldn’t be the last man to not admit his mistakes,” she said.
Kavita Krishnan, secretary, All India Progressive Women’s Association, said Akbar retaining his position as a Union minister is a “slap” on the face of all women not only by him but also by the government.

“Akbar remaining a minister and intimidating victims with defamation cases is a slap on the face of all women – not by Akbar alone but by the Modi government too.
“This is (Prime Minister Narendra) Modi’s version of (US President Donald) Trump’s move to confirm Michael Kavanaugh to the US Supreme Court, mocking women who accused him of assault,” she said.
Director, Centre for Social Research, Ranjana Kumari, said as an individual, the Union minister has every right to move court but the case is not between him and a journalist but “14 other media persons”, who have accused him of sexual misconduct.
“He is in a position of power and he can influence people,” Kumari alleged. PTI

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