The #MeToo movement here is gathering the momentum of a tornado, and has already felled some small fry. A few names that have come up in the shameful outings, however, seem to have escaped unscathed.
The biggest one of them all being M J Akbar, former editor of The Asian Age and currently minister of state for external affairs in the Union government. Nine women have already come out on social media accusing the junior minister of sexual harassment during the course of his extensive career as a journalist.
Journalist Priya Ramani’s tweet calling out Akbar as a sexual predator set the ball rolling. Women began to share their own abhorrent experiences with Akbar.
They have described how he made them feel uncomfortable by setting up interviews in hotel rooms, turning up at their homes uninvited, carrying bottles of alcohol or turning up univited ‘for coffee’.
While his colleagues at the Centre are non-committal on the allegations, despite prodding by the media, the Opposition is baying for his resignation. And, rightly, too. He must be set up as an example of intolerance towards misogyny.
Sexual deviation at the workplace by people in power must be denigrated. Power being misused to humiliate and abuse those weaker and in a position of helplessness cannot and should not become acceptable. Most victims of sexual harassment have said that they had complained to the HR departments of their workplaces, but the fact that nothing much was done seems to have only served to empower men like Akbar.
There are murmurings that the BJP government will ask Akbar to go when he returns from his official trip to Nigeria on Sunday. We hope that’s true. The time has come to make the perpetrators pay.